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        College, Students

        Home is Where Harbert Is: Meet Ashton Dickinson

        April 15, 2022 By Michelle Jackson

        All News
        Harbert Business Complex

        Editor's Note

        Many Auburn students are generational legacies, students who grew up loving Auburn, and who have an affinity that has been passed down from their parents and other family members. But, what about those who are first-generation Auburn students? Students that are not “Auburn born.”  We at the Harbert College of Business wanted to know what it is that draws a student from another part of the country to Auburn University. Why Auburn? Why the Harbert College of Business? This five-part series will highlight students from across the U.S., and we’ll dive in to find out why they now believe in Auburn and love it too.

        Meet Ashton Dickinson

        Ashton DickinsonPeople are fascinating. Some are created with a deep analytical way of thinking, yet others are simply armed with good ole common sense. Some can create with their hands - building, sculpting, or painting, while others are gifted with incredible strength and sports prowess. There are those who can grow things from the earth, while others can play musical instruments and bring us to tears with an angelic voice and the lyrics to a beautiful song. Each one of us is born with gifts and with purpose.

        Ashton Dickinson was born a thinker. He grew up in the small community of Theodore, Alabama, where he knew at a very early age, he had the ability to achieve in the classroom, but very few people in his hometown pursued higher education. His mother and grandmother encouraged him to apply himself in school, so he did and did well. He appreciated the many talents of the people he was raised with, but knew he was academically gifted and wanted to pursue multiple college degrees. He would often ask himself, “How can I better prepare myself for the future? What can I engage in to grow?”

        Ashton had a “dream big” mindset from the beginning.

        Unlike the other students in our series, Ashton is in fact, a second-generation Auburn student.

        “I was fortunate enough to have a mom who kicked off the process and started achieving higher education,” he says, “Like many from my hometown, she was a first-generation college student, and she chose Auburn.”

        Ashton, however, did not consider himself an Auburn legacy.  Auburn University wasn’t his top choice. In fact, Auburn wasn’t even on his list.

        Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

        So, how did Auburn win him over?

        Ashton knew he wanted to study finance, and he initially thought to be successful in investment banking he would have to attend a private target school – somewhere like Brown, Cornell, Duke, or Vanderbilt. But, because his mom had ties to Auburn University, he decided he would at least come for a tour.

        Ashton Dickinson's First Day at Auburn University“At the time of my tour, I learned Auburn was doing a lot to promote diversity, equity and inclusion which increased my interest,’ Ashton said, “and when I toured, I fell in love.”  Following that tour Ashton attended the 2019 Iron Bowl where the 16th ranked Auburn Tigers defeated the fifth ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in a 48-45 victory in Jordan-Hare stadium. The electric atmosphere on campus and the passion for the university gave Ashton a glimpse into what a full campus life experience would be like.

        “After I visited Auburn, I knew I wanted to experience every area my four years of undergrad had to offer, and I put all the other schools to the side. I really started digging into the Harbert College of Business. I learned about the finance program and the Financial Management Association (FMA). I learned about the Office of Professional and Career Development and all these kids who were going to Wall Street enjoying these insane careers. They were coming right out of Auburn. If they weren’t going to New York, they were going to Chicago.  They were going to Dallas. They were going to Houston or to Charlotte,” Ashton said. 

        Auburn moved to the top of his list.

        Dream Big

        Ashton came to Auburn with the “dream big” mindset and is taking advantage of every opportunity to learn.

        “I’ve had the opportunity to do so much because of Harbert. I’m only a sophomore and the time is speeding by,"said Ashton. "But representing the College of Business as a Senator with the Student Government Association (SGA) is a privilege, and my involvement with SGA and FMA has given me the chance to participate in various forums and seminars, and even more importantly the chance to engage in and advocate for so many things I never thought I would prior to being here.”

        A goal-oriented, people person Ashton is only beginning.  He asks himself questions like: Why am I here? Why do I want to be here? What do I do best here? How can I leave this place better than I found it? Ashton is loving his Auburn experience. He describes Auburn as a place where people are happy, inclusive, love one another, and work hard together for academic achievement. He is a member of Lambda Chi fraternity and is participating in every area of campus life – socially and academically. He loves the community. He especially loves his fellow students, and he loves the challenging academics.  He is an outgoing person and is taking in all Auburn has to offer.  But his eye is on the prize - the big dream.  He’d like to be in New York City after graduation.

        Getting There

        A very relational person, Ashton’s networking is already in full swing.  He fearlessly uses LinkedIn to connect with young professionals across the country who are currently working with firms he’s interested in learning more about.  He speaks with upperclassmen to learn about their internship experiences, and how to better prepare for his internship junior year.  Ashton feels confident Harbert students have a competitive edge. “FMA encourages us to keep our GPAs up and work hard to get to Wall Street and do well to continue to build the Harbert name.  Our students have grit and get there because of new candidate training and programs - taking courses like Practical Applications, Principles of Business Finance, and Advanced Business Finance - but most importantly working with the Auburn Student Investment Fund (ASIF).”

        ASIF is an organization on campus that was established to give students an opportunity to apply what they learn in class and through internships to the management of a portion of the Auburn University endowment. Emphasis is placed on professional development and Training the Street courses. Members are required to complete the Bloomberg Certification for Equity Essentials when they join and are strongly encouraged to work through courses on Wall Street Prep.   

        “We are learning to do Training the Street and work on terminals and build models, so when a Harbert student gets to Moelis and Company, Evercore Inc., Goldman Sachs, or JP Morgan, they are prepared,” Ashton said. “They are efficient. They have the drive and the initiative, but most importantly they know what they are doing.  Breaking down a deal is not new to them.  Using excel and developing a pitchbook is not new to them. ”

        It Began at Harbert

        We are all created with uniquely different gifts and talents, and Ashton knew early on his gift was learning. He enjoys academia, and although he began his education at the Harbert College of Business, it won’t end here.  He plans to begin a career in investment banking upon graduation in 2024, then simultaneously pursue Master of Business Administration and Juris Doctor degrees.

        He is a lifetime learner. A born thinker. A hard worker.  “Auburn isn’t an easy school,” he says, “but that’s great because it is preparing us for what comes next. I appreciate the passion my professors exhibit for their work.”  Ashton credits the Financial Management Association, the Office of Professional and Career Development, and the Auburn Student Investment Fund for the professional development instruction and coaching he’s received.  It has given him confidence that he can compete with any candidate from any institution.

        Ashton will continue to dream big.  Plans to achieve big. Then he’d like to pay it forward doing his part to place Harbert on the elite list of target schools that others can aspire to.

        Ashton Dickinson is proud to call Harbert home.