Meet Ashley Gray
Associate Director for Assessment and Strategic Initiatives | Carolina Housing
Two and half years
Tell us about your job.
As the Associate Director for Assessment and Strategic Initiatives, I oversee all assessment efforts in Carolina Housing, lead our department in Strategic Planning, and serve on the leadership team within Carolina Housing and across Student Affairs.
How have your responsibilities changed since the switch to working remotely? What things have been added to your normal work in the face of COVID-19?
Since the change to working remotely, I have been coordinating the university-wide effort to stand up isolation and on-campus quarantine housing. Additionally, I assisted the COVID-19 Student Care Hub by working with Chapel Hill and Carrboro City Schools and the Dean of Students Office to coordinate meal delivery services for graduate and family housing residents in need of meals and helped pilot a summer mask program.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced when transitioning to remote work?
Just like for many others, I think navigating work with other responsibilities in this "new normal" was and continues to be challenging. However, I'm now back to working on campus about 75 percent of the time so now I'm navigating another "new normal" again. I think it’s not really about work-life balance, but work-life integration. That doesn't mean working all the time. On the contrary, it just means trying to find a rhythm that works for you and your family. And that's perhaps always challenging.
How are you maintaining a sense of community among those you serve?
My role serving students has been behind the scenes setting up systems and processes set up to provide the best experience for students who find themselves in very difficult situations. No matter in virtual or face-to-face meetings with students, I try to lead with authenticity and always ask at least one non-related COVID-19 question about their lives. Then I remember to revisit whatever they shared with me at our next conversation. I hope this builds a connection, which in return maintains community. My department, Carolina Housing, has set up virtual engagement groups and activities to keep us coming together as a unit.
Where are you working from? Did you set up your workspace at home?
My wife and I set up an at-home office in a guest bedroom and we share that. You can also find me on a zoom call in the yard. on the porch or sometimes even in the hammock.
What do you like most about your work?
It’s tough right now, the numbers aren't going in the direction anyone wanted and there is legitimate fear and anxiety about all the unknowns as we approach fall. There is no way around it. However, one thing I like about my job currently is that even on the hardest days, I have been amazed and inspired by my colleagues in Carolina Housing and at the University. People are working hard, and sometimes around the clock, to solve vexing problems that COVID-19 has caused. Also, there are too many instances of small and large acts of compassion than I could name, and that keeps me going.
What is one thing you hope will stay the same once things return to normal?
For me, I think the pandemic has served as a reminder to remember what and who is important to you and to work on strengthening those connections. I hope to keep that perspective as we return to normal- whatever normal looks like in a changing and challenging world.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Well, if you are reading this and you have helped get a meal to a student in need, completed a room check, or sat through a tense conversation on "what should we do,” I just want to say thank you. Our students are lucky to have so many wonderful Student Affairs folks working hard to provide support and co-curricular experiences that help them navigate their "new normal."