Ashley’s Fight – How PSB’s valedictorian succeeded against all odds

By Sujaykumar Vardhmane

The Human Resources Management advanced diploma program is proud to have Ashley Vien as this year’s valedictorian for the Pilon School of Business. 

Over the past three years, Ashley excelled in her studies at Sheridan. But it’s not her high GPA that makes her a worthy candidate to represent the PSB Class of 2021; it’s Ashley’s ability to overcome personal obstacles and leverage her Sheridan education to build a better future for her and her family that is truly inspirational. Here is her story.

Ashley’s early life was less than idyllic. Both her mother and her grandmother had their lives consumed by addiction. In fact, so unpredictable and unsettling was her childhood that her aunt chose to single-handedly raise young Ashley. 

Because of the tumult of her home life, Ashley grew up curious about why people indulge in addictive and self-destructive behaviour and how to turn things around. In her search of the answer, she discovered that education can be a powerful tool to help break the negative cycle of addiction. After considering her path in life, and thanks to the wise council from her aunt, Ashley chose to pursue human resources as a career. 

The knowledge gained while studying Human Resources at Sheridan opened new doors for Ashley. The flexibility that the program allowed let her complete her studies while holding a full-time job in HR. She landed work as a HR administrator assistant at Club Coffee and later moved to Publicis Groupe as a human resources coordinator. The income generated helped her support her mother, aunt and uncle. 

As her family struggles continued, Ashley found solace at Sheridan, spending time on weekends in the library and completing projects with classmates. The campus became Ashley’s safe space and inspired her to be persistent, work hard and develop grit to stay the course to complete the advanced diploma program. She fondly remembers the friendships and lasting bonds build with peers as they worked for untold hours completing complex and challenging assignment and producing high-quality work.

Ashley Vien, the Pilon School of Business’ valedictorian for the Class of 2021

Ashley is also thankful and appreciative of all the professors and support staff who always supported and encouraged her to excel. Their advice, particularly with regards to her LinkedIn and resume, helped her to launch her career.

As a parent herself now, Ashley and her partner are providing a safe and loving home environment for their daughter, Jamiee, and have already opened an RESP for the child. Ashley has also started to give back to society by acting as a guide, counsellor to her extended family and is also contributing to their RESP, as a thank you to her aunt who raised her like a mother.

We at Sheridan wish Ashley and her family a life full of love, happiness and continued learning and growth.

Lindsey Ash, the chief talent officer at Publicis Groupe, Ashley’s current employer, sums her up best:

“When looking for a new team member for our expanding HR practice, Ashley stood head and shoulders above other candidates we met. Since joining the Publicis team, Ashley has more than delivered on my expectations,” wrote Ash. “Technically savvy, Ashley is eager to show that data and analytics have a place in the HR process without losing the personal touch. Ashley took on the task of the new employee introductions to All Staff, creating individual videos for all new hires and these videos have become a thing of legend because they are funny, interesting, and unique, just like Ashley! Publicis will continue to be a people place because of Ashley.”


Sujaykumar Vardhmane is program coordinator and professor in the Human Resources program in the Pilon School of Business.

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