The Mentonians

Suzanne Ashley

Alumni Manager

BA Legal (La Trobe), Diplomas in School Marketing (CMS), Public Relations, Leadership (Monash) and Certified Practitioner, Alumni Relations (EdPlus)

Mentone Grammar Alumni Manager, Suzanne Ashley, has a passion for engaging with the School Community and connecting with past students.

From commencing her early studies in biological science, to working for a mineral company that took her across the globe, Suzanne has embraced every opportunity that has come her way. Now, Suzanne graces the halls of Mentone Grammar, where she uses her high energy and effervescent personality to bring the broader School community together.

As a child, Suzanne lived in a neighbourhood that valued friendship and community; she recalls many happy times spent playing games with the countless children on her street. “We played every sport, rode bikes, caught tadpoles in the local creek, and watched them hatch into frogs,” she laughs, “much to our parents’ dismay.” Today, Suzanne still maintains a deep connection with the community she grew up with, and remains best friends with her childhood neighbour and doubles partner. Together, they have spent many a year playing tennis tournaments and warmly recounting “The good old days!”

Prior to becoming an Alumni Manager, Suzanne studied Biological Science at University. Suzanne’s mother had encouraged her to pursue this academic field, as she felt that more females should be scientists. However, after two years of studying, “I was not enjoying it, but I was too afraid to face my mother.” Around the same time, a close friend sadly passed away from leukemia. This devastating loss led Suzanne to realise that she had to live her life to the fullest. “I needed to follow a career path that I would enjoy.” Determined, she found a role in public relations, and with the support of her manager and company, returned to university part-time to achieve a bachelor’s degree in legal studies.

Suzanne has worked in a variety of roles within marketing and public relations. She has found a great interest in engaging and connecting with others through her work. Her willingness to embrace any challenge has led to a plethora of exciting experiences. One of these instances came from working at a minerals company, where she was able to work and travel extensively throughout Australia and North America.

“For me, life has been, and continues to be, about making the most of every opportunity.”

This mantra is what led Suzanne to pursue her current role at Mentone Grammar. “I feel extremely fortunate to have found my passion in alumni relations. It has never felt like a ‘job’ to me. I love everything about it. I especially enjoy connecting with our past students and the wider community through our functions, events, and publications.”

Throughout her years at Mentone Grammar, Suzanne has been truly touched by the value the School has placed on engaging with its alumni. “We mean it when we say that we want to create a ‘life-long association’. I love talking to our alumni, hearing and sharing their stories.” Suzanne works extensively with the passionate volunteers who run ‘The Mentonians Association’. This incredible committee ensures that the past students remain connected through social and sporting activities, recognising the achievements of Mentonians and promoting exciting opportunities.

“It is a dynamic and caring group, providing emotional support to past students when needed.” This was certainly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic: “I know that through my work, I can make a positive difference in people’s lives.”

After years of experience, Suzanne feels that if she could offer her past self some words of wisdom it would be; “Do what feels intuitively right for you! Follow the career path and live the life that makes you happy.” She strongly believes that following a career at Mentone Grammar is living by this sentiment.

“I love being part of this School, it has a ‘life’ of its own. I like the noise and the buzz when things are happening. Every day is unique.”

Author: Steph Kinnear