More Than Marketing

“The other thing I want to warn you about is that at some point near the Spring Semester, you will get an email that basically will thank you for everything you’ve done and says your contract is ending,” my boss at Miami University told me.

“Oh!” I said. “Does that happen to everyone?”

“Yes, mostly,” he said. “But don’t worry. That’s just part of the process – don’t freak out.”

I love people who know that I have zero chill and freak out easily – yet they love me anyway and do everything to stay ahead of my freak-out moments – this is no easy task.

I’ve always been on guard for this email but never received one – probably because I am adjunct faculty and not a full-time visiting instructor. Until one day last week, I got an email with a subject line that I didn’t understand – from a person that I didn’t know. You know that moment. You’ve probably received an email like that before too.

At the time, I was sitting on my couch in tears. My latest items from Rent the Runway didn’t fit. I’ve been busting my ass in the gym to get my body back from a rough year of surgeries and high stress. Many items from my closet are too tight, so renting clothes is a good way to keep me looking stylish without breaking the bank on a new wardrobe again – only to have those clothes not fit me in a few weeks. But for the second week in a row, nothing fit right and I was crying. I was crying out of frustration – not out of hate for my body. I love this body, and I am so proud of everything I’ve done to stay healthy and active during some of the hardest physical, emotional, and mental times of my life.

Needing a distraction, I opened the email. Could this be the email saying I was fired?

Far from it.

Here is what the email said:

At the end of the 2018-19 academic year, Miami University asked graduating students (undergraduates and graduate students) to complete a survey when they confirmed their mailing address for their diplomas.  Among the prompts on the survey were:

  • Please identify any faculty or staff members who made a positive impact on your learning and development while at Miami University. This information will be used to send letters of commendation to faculty and staff.
  • Please share a brief explanation of how the individual(s) identified above made a positive impact on your learning and development.

As a university we can be proud of the large number of students who were able to identify specific faculty/staff who influenced their learning and development.  Not all students left specific comments, and we do not know the names or identities of the respondents.  However, students said the following things about the impact that you have had on them:

COMMENT: Ashley only taught my capstone class the first semester of my senior year but she helped me to see how I can shine my brightest. In all honesty I feel like she showed a positivity and energy that reflected my own even when she was going through some tough times. I really appreciated all of her feedback and recommendations as well.

COMMENT: Ashley was an extremely positive and helpful professor, able to connect deeply with students and provide an enriching learning environment.

COMMENT:  Her positive attitude and being able to keep in touch

COMMENT:  Acted as a mentor for my senior capstone. Taught both of my favorite courses at Miami, digital branding & social media marketing

COMMENT:  Ashley was the my favorite professor I had during my time at Miami. During IMS/MKT 419, she was incredibly passionate and truly loved her students. It was an amazing and encouraging feeling to have a professor care SO much about her students and to want so badly for us all to succeed and learn. I walked away a better and more well-educated student at the end of the semester. Truly one of the best professors at Miami. Thank you, Ashley!

COMMENT: Ashley was always positive coming to class with a great attitude and was always available for help and very approachable. I don’t think any student ever left her class without a smile on their face and she was always bringing field related professionals into the class to speak with us providing extra value. She was truly concerned about her student’s wellbeing and wanting to see us succeed.

COMMENT:  I looked forward to Ashley’s class every day and I always left so excited about the content I learned and how I could apply it to my life. She brought so much energy to class and was so passionate about not only the topic, but about teaching too. Ashley engaged the class with ease and recognized students’ hard work regularly. She has had such a large impact in my career decision. She is easily the best professor I’ve ever had.

COMMENT: One of the best teachers I ever had, super energetic, positive, and brought a lot of excitement, inspiration, and real-life lessons to the class. Always available to chat and always more than willing to help.

COMMENT: By far the most passionate and caring professor I’ve ever had. She taught my capstone last semester and made a world’s difference in how I view the compassion of professors.

COMMENT:  She encouraged me a lot when I was not confident to speak and share my ideas and finally, I made huge progress on public speaking.

COMMENT:  Helped my mental health

COMMENT: Ashley is fun, compassionate, confident, and extremely others-focused. I took my IMS capstone with her, and through the disorganization of the client, she helped us roll with the punches and excel, and though the class was split into smaller teams she made sure we worked as a unit. I got to know the students in my class, and I got to know her, and she got to know us. Ashley is completely inspirational and engaging and I am so thankful I got to take her class.

COMMENT:  She would always bring in relevant and relatable news stories and incorporate it into class. Also, the energy she had every day was so contagious and I really enjoyed learning so many new things about marketing metrics and KPI’s that I did not have a good grasp on prior.

COMMENT:  Ashley is the most positive, inspiring, and supportive professor. She always showed up to class enthusiastic to help us learn, both as students and simply as people. She was always so proud of me and my accomplishments, and she was very often the bright light I needed during my time in her semester. I still keep in touch with her and am so lucky to know her.

COMMENT: Ashley taught one of my favorite courses. She is now helping me on my degree project and we chat regularly. She is honestly one of the kindest and most passionate people I have ever met. Miami should hire every professor with Ashley’s credentials and attitude in mind!

COMMENT:  Her professional experiences and knowledge in Marketing field truly impressed me. Her positive personality also greatly influences me, it greatly influences me and motivates me when I meet difficulties in my life. She is not only a good professor but also a life model for students to follow.

COMMENT:  Ashley will patiently help me when I have any problems, and I always feel very interested in her class. She is an excellent teacher, and I am very grateful for her help to me – She is always very enthusiastic in class and can bring a good atmosphere to the classroom. When I asked her to help me every time, she was very timely to send back the mail.

We have copied this message to your supervisor. Please feel free to share this information with additional supervisors and anyone else whom you believe should receive it.  Tweet it (#MiamiOHCommendations @MiamiCTE). Post it. Share it. Spread the word. We are so proud of you!


Suddenly, my tears moved from frustration to pure joy. This email was incredibly unexpected. I read the comments in this email about 5 times in a row. And that’s when something clicked, I am teaching my students more than marketing.

I am teaching my students how to believe in themselves.

I am teaching my students how to discover who they are.

I am teaching my students that you can overcome anything.

I am teaching my students that you can find light in the darkness.

I am teaching my students that they are not alone in their struggles with mental health. 

I am teaching my students how to put your hands up and ride the rollercoaster of life – every peak, valley, twist, and turn! 

I am teaching them that you show up for people you love. 

I am teaching my students that they are worthy of beautiful, exciting celebrations in life – no matter if someone hurt them or told them otherwise. 

People will hurt you. People will say mean things to you. People will let you down. People will crush your spirit. I know all of this too well, but the best thing you do is cherish the positive compliments people give you and pull them out when you need them. Focus on the good. Focus on the right people. Focus on what lights you up in a dark room.

ashley sieb speaking
I don’t have a lot of pictures of me speaking in the classroom, but I imagine this is how I look most of the time; filled with passion and purpose.

To my students who took time out of their busy schedules to leave me such thoughtful, encouraging messages – I will cherish your words forever. I will always be thankful that you SHOWED UP; that you taught me too. That you inspired me when I needed it the most.

Love you forever,


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