Student Spotlight: Ashley Starr
Growing up in Los Angeles, University of Michigan Senior Ashley Starr had always been acquainted with entrepreneurship as both practice and a mindset. Los Angeles, an energetic start-up hub, presented her with myriad prestigious opportunities to grow, develop, and become an entrepreneur. Yet during her sophomore year in high school, Ashley noticed a dire need in her community, and turned her efforts towards a group of underserved people who needed her most: homeless women.
“When I was in high school, I noticed a lack in feminine hygiene products in homeless shelters in Los Angeles.”
She immediately lept into action, and led an initiative to fulfill this urgent need within her community. This is the moment where Ashley’s interest in social entrepreneurship transcended fascination, and crystallized into meaningful, direct change.
“I started an initiative to provide homeless women in Los Angeles with feminine hygiene kits,” she said. “When we think of ‘human need,’ food, water and shelter are always the top three priorities. Yet feminine hygiene products are overlooked, and crucial for these women.”
Ashley led a communication-forward social enterprise, where her first step was to understand the needs of homeless women in her community. Often, anonymity and emotional distance can render social service less effective. To truly affect change, discourse is required to dissolve both social and communication barriers.
“I’d walk around Venice, Skid Row, and other neighborhoods to have conversations with homeless women. I wanted to understand their needs and their story.”
Through having conversations with these women, Ashley developed an acute understanding of the needs, conditions, and circumstances of the community members she sought to serve. Then she responded with empathy, an incisive strategy, and entrepreneurial action.
“I think entrepreneurial creativity comes in an array of forms,” she said. “For example, I am a social entrepreneur. When there is a problem, I seek a solution.”
“When I got to Michigan, my passion for politics, law, and entrepreneurship collided.”
At the University of Michigan, this mindset has empowered Ashley to seek leadership opportunities both in the classroom, and campus-wide. She is currently a political science student with an entrepreneurship minor, on the pre-law track. Ashley’s passion for social change and aptitude for problem solving translates perfectly throughout both personal, and professional spheres of her life.
In her personal time, Ashley currently leads MPowered Entrepreneurship, the University’s largest entrepreneurship organization, as Chief People Officer. The club has been one of her most valuable and treasured student life experiences during her time at college.
“MPowered has been such a rewarding experience. I’ve made so many incredible friends.”
Professionally, Ashley’s intellectual curiosity and dedication to her community has culminated in a diverse array of internship experiences. She has interned with organizations ranging from the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, to Campbell’s Soup Company as a Corporate Compliance and Ethics intern, to FlickPlay – a vibrant augmented reality tech start-up based in Santa Monica, CA.
“At FlickPlay I was an outreach intern,” she said. “The company focused on creating an immersive digital experience most similar to a hybrid between TikTok and Pokémon Go.
“It was a dream. The company was wonderful, the people were amazing, and I learned so much about the profession.”
These internships have helped Ashley understand the cultural differences between a start-up and the large corporate opportunities available for new graduates. Ultimately, her amalgamation of internship experiences, her passion for social entrepreneurship, and determination to make a difference in the world has led her to pursue a JD-MBA after the conclusion of her undergraduate studies.
“I love this university so much. I never want to leave!”