Ashley Discovers Her Inner Chompie

by Teresa Lynch

When you’ve spent the last five years living in Bloomington, sometimes you just need to get out.  That’s exactly how Ashley Kraus felt this past spring as she solidified her plans to spend the summer living and working in Washington, D.C.  A native of the Chicago area, Ashley wanted – or maybe needed – to be outside of the Midwest for a bit.  She wanted the experience of living in an urban area, complete with all of the hustle-bustle of metro travel and the downtown scene.

She won an internship spot at Discovery Education, part of a company best known for its Discovery and Animal Planet channels, through a competitive program that gave her occasion to actualize her plans.  The internship provided her with experience outside of academia that helped to round out her skill set and prepare her for her next step after her master’s.

Ashley’s kickball team getting ready to play. Photo courtesy of Ashley Kraus.

Ashley was assigned to the Implementation Team in the Corporate Partnerships Division; a section of the company that is media affiliated, but does not house the television channels.  For the majority of the summer,  Ashley worked on collecting data on the quality of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs, which the Implementation Team needed for developing contests, competitions, and sweepstakes sponsored by Siemens Foundation for K-12 students.

But, Ashley’s time in D.C. was far from all work and no play.  In fact, there was quite a bit of play.  She joined up with “Ball So Hard, That Pitch Cray,” a team in the local kickball league that played on the grounds of the Washington Monument.  She ended her season with an RBI (er…RKI?), though she admits she “just stood wherever the ball wasn’t going to go.”  She also had the opportunity to be Chompie, Jr., the official in-house mascot for Discovery’s infamous Shark Week. She thereby spent her last few days at Discovery Education wandering the building in a full-body, plush shark suit.  Many visitors to the building stopped for photo ops with her, but she wished that the Chompie, Jr. fans would have remembered one thing “… seriously, furry exterior, human interior. Don’t squeeze me so hard!”

Ashley as Chompie, Jr. Photos courtesy of Ashley Kraus.

The highlight of her summer – a trip to the Condé Nast building in New York City – came in an unexpected way.  After the Multivisions last year, Ashley connected with a Telecom alum now working with Glamour magazine in NYC.  The contact helped Ashley get an informational interview with the Executive Editor at Glamour, the woman in charge of all the body image and health content for Glamour magazine.  Considering Ashley’s research interests (body image, fashion depictions, and beauty in the media) the opportunity was a match made in heaven.  In addition to making a contact within the fashion industry, she also got a private tour of Glamour’s facilities and its fashion closet.

Of course she did do some siteseeing while in the nation’s capital, visiting the White House, the museums, and the monuments.  But, it was the living experience, riding the metro with all of its difficulties, meeting new friends, working and playing hard, that Ashley wanted most.  It’s safe to say she got what she wanted.

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