Missouri State University

Laura Ashley

Country music drives public relations student toward a dream

For Laura Ashley, the future may hold a bright career at the top of the country music charts.

Laura Ashley

At her core, Laura Ashley is honest. She’s a junior majoring in public relations at Missouri State, learning the tricks of the trade for crafting messages, producing strategic content, and working with clients.

But she has another motivation. She knows who she is, and she has a dream that, if realized, someday could find her on standing on a stage, colored lights beaming down and a throng of fans getting ready to become lost in the twang of her voice.

Microphone in-hand, her public relations background helped her get here. The curtain rises. She steps into the spotlight with a smile.

This student from Rogersville, Missouri wants to have a successful career in country music.

Back to her roots

Still, success doesn’t have to mean fame and fortune, so let’s jump back closer to the beginning of the story. Like many people, that’s where Ashley’s motivations and purpose were formed.

“I have the most peace and the most joy when I’m on the back of my horse, riding through a field, chasing a sunset.”

“I was a total outdoor girl,” Ashley said. “I was in sports in high school, but my favorite thing to do was to go train and ride my horse. I wasn’t a huge school fan. I just wanted to go home and train and ride.”

Over the years, that bond with nature and that horse continued to form. So much, in fact, that Ashley smiles when she describes the scene with her longtime friend, her horse, Lil Bit.

“I have the most peace and the most joy when I’m on the back of Lil Bit, riding through a field, chasing a sunset,” she said. “It sounds cliché, but it’s what I love. When I’m in the city for too long, I almost feel a little claustrophobic. I just feel God and nature out there.”

A drive to succeed

And maybe that’s why Ashley’s definition of success may not fit the pop culture norm. She’s already produced several songs and videos that are available on her YouTube channel, including “Cause You’re a Cowgirl” and “Don’t Fence Me In,” songs that have hit the top of country music charts already.

She performed at CMA Music Festival last summer. She’s sang with country music artists Randy Houser, Phil Vassar, Lauren Alaina and Thomas Rhett, among others. But there’s a personal element here that Ashley said is of the upmost importance.

Laura smiles

That element aligns well with Missouri State’s public affairs pillars of ethical leadership, cultural competence, and community engagement.

“Cause You’re a Cowgirl” was the first song I recorded,” she said. “It’s a song that wraps who I am in general in one song.

“My whole basis is I want to do good in this world, and I think even when we’re treated poorly, we should still have the strength to do what’s right.”

Learning along the way

Ashley has a few semesters left at Missouri State before she heads out to pursue her dream. With a December 2016 graduation date targeted, she’s pushing ahead with her classwork in the public relations program, which means she has to be an excellent planner to have time for that and making music.

Those public relations classes are especially vital for Ashley, who is already taking charge in managing her own image as she tries to make her name and brand more well-known. At Missouri State, she said she’s found the support she needs to improve by the day.

With interview requests already coming through the door, she wants to get better at portraying herself in the best possible way.

“I know there’s an expert for everything I need,” Ashley said. “If I’m struggling in anything, there’s a professor here I can talk to who’s always willing to help.

“That’s been a huge blessing, just being around such an academic environment, knowing I won’t be cheated because I don’t know something.”