ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT - Ashna Dadlani '16

I first came to Franklin Road Academy when I was four years old, and I was presented with so many great opportunities that helped shape me into the person I am today. My time at FRA was so rewarding, and I am thankful to all of the faculty and students who helped me grow and succeed. Since graduating in 2016, I have been at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I am about to finish my senior year. I am double majoring in International Studies — Global Security and Political Science with a minor in European Studies, topics I love because they open up so many opportunities for me and allow me to learn about current events taking place all over the world.

I realized my love of learning about these subjects during my time at FRA because of the wide range of classes that were offered. One class in particular, AP European History, was one of my favorite classes because it made me curious about learning more about the world. In college, I have been able to further my studies stateside as well as abroad. During the spring semester of my junior year, I traveled to Barcelona, Spain, where I tried a lot of new foods, practiced and refined my Spanish-speaking skills, and took part in many Spanish cultural events. I also took classes that are not offered in the U.S. — like a class dedicated to the urban planning of Barcelona — studying the works of Antoni Gaudi, and visiting his architectural masterpieces. I was also able to study the Catalonian culture while watching the separationist movement take place right in front of me. Studying abroad also allowed me to travel around Europe and Morocco — experiences that were life-changing, and I am so grateful to have had this amazing opportunity.

The activities and clubs I partake in at UW-Madison were largely influenced by the opportunities given to me at FRA. For instance, because I was a student ambassador at FRA, I had the confidence and experience to apply for a tour guide position, which has been one of the most rewarding experiences at UW-Madison. I was able to easily transition from meeting  prospective families and giving them tours of FRA to doing the same thing for prospective students in college. While my university’s campus is much larger, I would not have been comfortable doing this job if I hadn’t been exposed to it in high school. Another club I am still passionate about is Best Buddies. I was fortunate enough to be part of the group that brought in and integrated the Best Buddies chapter at FRA, and I wanted to continue this through college. At FRA, I served as the vice president for two years and helped organize fun and interactive events for all members of Best Buddies at school. This chapter was promotional, which allowed our students to connect with all the buddies across Middle Tennessee and spread the mission and values tied to this wonderful organization. Since Best Buddies was such a big part of my life at FRA, I wanted to continue working with them after I graduated. Thankfully, my university also had a Best Buddies chapter, so I was able to join and continue being a member. In my freshman year, I switched from a leadership role and became a peer buddy, which was something I had always wanted to do. Going to college, especially one far from home, was difficult at first, but having the consistency of Best Buddies helped me feel more at home in my new city.

Another great experience I was able to attain in college because of my experiences at FRA was becoming the membership vice president for my sorority on campus. FRA allowed me to become a leader at school, and I was able to use these skills in my organizations in college. This role required me to organize and run spring recruitment while balancing my job and my classes. I was prepared to face all of these obstacles and be a strong leader because I learned how to balance schoolwork, sports, and being involved and leading multiple clubs while at FRA. Many of my college friends were not exposed to this and struggled early on while I was more prepared. Being prepared made my transition a lot easier, and I have FRA to thank for that.

Last summer, I was blessed to get an opportunity to work for Kohl’s Corporate, and all of the skills I learned in high school and college helped me prepare for this opportunity. I was a marketing intern for 10 weeks, and I was able to learn about how a Fortune 500 company functions and work with multiple marketing teams to create plans for the future. The best part about the internship was doing real work for the business and making a huge impact. The highlight of this experience was definitely working with six other interns to research, develop, and execute a new experience for the customers on the website. We were given full autonomy over this project, and we worked together for eight weeks to create a new function. We had to create it ourselves, back up our reasoning with research, and test it out to see if it was a project the customers would actually enjoy and if it would bring more revenue for the company. This was rewarding because now when people go onto the Kohl’s website, they will be able to see a feature I helped create.

All of these experiences allowed me to grow and eventually get a full-time job after graduating college. I am excited to work for a company called AlphaSights in New York City as an Associate for the Client Services Team. FRA and the UW-Madison gave me so many chances to prove myself and helped me develop skills that allowed me to achieve all of the goals I set. This is such an incredible experience, and I am excited to finish college strong and enter the workforce right away. I am excited to move to a brand new city and continue growing, but I will always remember who helped me get to where I am. 

The friendships and connections I made at FRA are the ones I hold close to my heart. I was a student at FRA for 12 years, and through this school, I met some of my best friends and was mentored by some of the best faculty members. Some of my classmates I am still in contact with include Haylee Ferguson, Josh Schwaner, Drake Mitchell, Olivia Green, and Rob Funk, just to name a few. It is rewarding to have these lifelong friendships, especially those who I have been able to turn to during harder times. Whenever I come back home, I always try and make an effort to see my friends or visit the FRA campus. Going back to campus is always so fun and exciting. There are always new additions that make this place even more special, but it is always nice to see all the faculty who helped shape my life. My favorite spot on campus is definitely the bench outside the Seabury Family Conference Center. This bench is special because it is dedicated to my sister, a former student at FRA. This dedication meant a lot to my family and proves that FRA is a huge family. 

The 12 years I spent at FRA were some of the best years of my life. It is such a great experience being able to learn and grow at the same school, and I know that none of my achievements would have been possible without this place. I was able to find my best friends, discover my passions, and grow into a strong woman who has the tools to be successful in the future. FRA gave me the foundation and knowledge to prosper, and I am forever thankful to this school and everyone in it.