They Gave Her Hope

The UND Angel Fund and Open Door Scholarship gave doctoral student Ashley Smalley financial help and motivation to stay on course.

While there are many reasons to support student scholarships, one stands above the rest for Ashley Smalley, ’23.


During the pandemic, both Ashley and her husband were juggling work and school. Ashley, a middle school art teacher in West Fargo, continued taking online classes in pursuit of a doctorate in Educational Leadership through UND’s College of Education & Human Development.
Like many, the pandemic added roadblocks to their plans. Ashley’s husband owned a business in the entertainment industry but was out of work when venues across the nation shut down. The funds that normally paid for Ashley’s classes dried up. She reached out to her advisor for help.
“With my husband not being able to work, I really didn't want to fall off my schedule, my goals and plans. So, I actually emailed my advisor and told her the situation I was in,” she said.

Ashley Smalley

Ashley’s advisor encouraged her to apply to the Open Door Scholarship and UND Angel Fund, two emergency funds created to help students in crisis. The Open Door Scholarship provides tuition assistance while the UND Angel Fund gives aid to students to help pay for rent, purchase groceries and address any other financial obstacles to their education. Ashley received assistance from both funds.
“When hard times come, you have no other option but to ask for help. When someone else is willing to step in, they're helping people better themselves, get an education and continue those plans and goals they've made. It's really amazing,” Ashley said. “We had hope, you know. That’s really what these scholarships did for us.”
Ashley’s goal beyond finishing her doctorate is to one day educate future teachers as a university professor. Because of the scholarships she received, Ashley has stuck with her educational timeline and plans to graduate from UND in the spring of 2023. Her husband was able to finish his degree and now teaches in the Northern Cass School District in North Dakota.
“And that was all part of the plan," said Ashley. To the donors who made it possible for Ashley to stay on course: “Everything was able to fall into place like we had hoped. So, thank you.”


Supporting students like Ashley is a necessity. By creating more scholarships, our future healthcare leaders have more opportunities to advance in their education and careers. Help us make a UND education attainable for every student who wants it. 

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