Ashley Priore, Class of 2018

Ashley Priore, Class of 2018, joined the Ellis community as an Upper School student in grade 9 and has since shared her love of chess with dozens of Ellis girls through self-taught chess classes and the formation of The Queen’s Gambit Chess Institute. Ashley is also co-president of Student Diversity League and a member of Guild, Newspaper, and the Creative Writing Club at Ellis. After she receives her diploma this June, Ashley will study English and pre-med at the University of Pittsburgh.
Is there a teacher at Ellis who has a particularly strong influence on your life?
Ms. Brennan. Last year, when we read Crime and Punishment in her class, she would let me come in and just talk about how much I loved it. She fueled my passion for that novel and literature. I’ve always been quieter in class, but in English, I feel the most comfortable speaking up. Ms. Brennan is the kind of teacher where if I tell her ideas about literature, she makes me want to learn even more about it. I still send her my poetry and writing to look at, she has always been there to guide me.

What is your favorite Ellis tradition?
Closing Exercises at the end of each year. Everyone is together in the auditorium and there is just so much support in the room. It’s always inspiring to see the seniors up on stage ready for their next step. Whether you win an award or you’re just moving onto the next grade, it feels really special because everyone in the room is accomplishing something that day. Then at the end when we sing the alma mater, it’s just one of my favorite things to do together as a community.

What will you miss most about Ellis when you graduate?
The teachers, I’ve had so many amazing teachers at Ellis. Mr. Malmstrom has been there for me since I first took Voice & Vision with him freshman year, and he spent two years as my advisor.

What advice would you offer to future seniors?
The year is going to go a lot faster than you think! Cherish the moments you spend with your class, even the little ones like when class is over but everyone just keeps hanging out and talking. The relationship you have with your class is so important—remember it’s going to end so make the most of it!  

How do you think your Ellis education has prepared you for your next chapter?
Ellis has helped me take hold of opportunities and make them my own. I’m not leaving as a student that graduated high school, I’m leaving as a person who knows what they want. I have goals and Ellis has prepared me to move onto the next step and achieve them. I’m leaving even more empowered than when I started because I have learned so much. I’m prepared for anything that comes my way.  It really is so special to be an Ellis student because not only do we learn and have conversations about the issues women face today—we actually work to find solutions to those issues.

What have you learned about leadership and mentoring others through chess?
I have learned that others are only as excited, motivated, and determined as you are. People respond to your commitment and effort. People say leadership is hard, but it is only hard if you do it all yourself. My students make mentoring easy because they teach me all of the time.  

What do you plan to study in college?
English and pre-med. I’m really interested in psychology and I wanted to start with a broader focus so I can specialize further down the road. I see English as the basis for everything and know I’ll be able to use it in whatever career I choose.

If you could interview anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Frances Jenkins Olcott, I wrote my junior research paper on her. She was the first head librarian of the children’s department at the Carnegie Library, she dedicated her life to establishing children’s rooms in libraries. As I read more about her, I really began to relate to her, especially through chess. I would ask her how did she handle her ambitions? How did she deal with other people’s feedback and advice?

What is the last book you read?
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
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