Steve McGregor’s daughter comes up big

D aughter of Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor, Ashleigh McGregor graduated magna cum laude on May 9 from the University of Tampa, where she majored in criminology.

The class of 2020 honours student spoke glowingly of her popular crime-fighter dad, whom she said provided the necessary financial and emotional support during her four-year journey.

One disappointment during the time of joy for Ashleigh is that her dad could not be at the graduation, even after he had bought his airline ticket and was ready to fly, before COVID-19 intervened.


Here are questions posed to her and responses given:


Q How do you feel about your achievements knowing the sacrifices your father had to make putting you through four years of college?


A I feel very proud of my achievements knowing all that my father had to do for me. I am just so happy to have graduated with honours and making the dean’s list each semester for the past four years, which required so much effort.


Q What would you say to other Jamaicans who would like to study in the US?


A I would say prepare yourself for a journey. It’s an unforgettable experience and you will have to learn to get used to such a different culture and being around a more diverse group of people. I would also suggest being prepared for the unexpected because the US can throw a lot of curve balls at you.


Q How did attending Campion College prepare you for the University of Tampa experience?


A Attending such a competitive high school definitely made me feel prepared enough to then comfortably move on to a competitive tertiary institution. It required hard work to excel at Campion, and even more effort was necessary to excel within a larger student body at the university. Therefore, it was less of a transition in terms of how hard I had to work.


Q How/when did you hear about the changes in COVID-19?


A I heard about COVID-19 during my spring break around the first or second week of March. At my on-campus job my manager reached out to all the employees saying that we would have to increase the cleaning of the gym and all the equipment, but also to be prepared to close indefinitely should the virus worsen.


Q What was your initial reaction?


A Initially I was disappointed that I would have to stop working, because I was relying on the money that I would receive from working at the campus gym to start my savings before I graduated in May.


Q What was the school’s approach to COVID-19 and students now required to evacuate campus, and how did it make you feel?


A The school’s approach was to close most of the facilities on campus, like the library, gym, bookstore, and most of the dining halls, except one. They also moved classes online. Students had the choice of leaving, but the residence halls were still open for those who didn’t want to or couldn’t leave. I appreciated the school having a dining option available and still having the dorms left open for students who couldn’t travel, especially for international students who had home countries that were not allowing incoming passengers; this was the case for Jamaica, so I couldn’t come home.


Q How was the transition to online school?


A Luckily, the transition process went smoothly forthe classes I was taking. My professors were willing to help in any way they could. They made themselves available to meet with them one-on-one over Zoom if we needed help understanding the material; they also recorded themselves giving the lectures and explaining the content over video. This surprisingly worked out well for me even though I prefer to learn in person in an actual classroom.


Q How did virtual learning affect your sense of community?

A Although I was no longer able to interact with my classmates in the traditional sense, I was still able to connect with them online through discussion boards and blog posts. It might not have been the sense of community I was used to, but it worked out for me.


Q Was this a traumatic experience?


A I wouldn’t go as far as calling it traumatic, but it definitely was an emotional experience. Because the school had to close abruptly, I didn’t have the chance to have a proper farewell with my friends and co-workers. Talking to them over the phone isn’t the same as having a shift together at work or grabbing lunch between classes. I told most of them ‘bye’ when we went on spring break vacation, but I wouldn’t have expected that that goodbye was our last. I had so many plans to spend more time with them and have a proper send-off, to move out of the dorms together, and so on.


Q How do you feel about not having a graduation ceremony when it was initially planned?


A I was so heartbroken. It felt like such a waste of four years to not have this grand ceremony where I could celebrate this achievement with family and friends – especially after investing so much time, money, and resources into getting this degree. I felt that the whole experience was pointless if I didn’t get my fancy and extravagant ceremony.


Q How did you feel about the virtual ceremony?


A I believe it could have been better; it was around 30-45 minutes. I think the graduates’ names could have been read aloud individually. The school had more than enough time but seemed to be rushing it. I felt that reading each graduate’s name and his/her degree was the least the school could have done.


Q Now that the semester is over what are your feelings overall, looking back over the last few months?


A It’s been quite an emotional roller coaster the past few months, but given the extreme circumstances we were given, I ultimately understand that it was the best that could have been done.


Q What’s next for Ashleigh?


A I am presently with my grandmother, my dad’s mother, in Florida. I will then discuss the prospects with my family and decide if the next leg of my future development will be in Jamaica, the US, or anywhere else for that matter. Ultimately, whatever decision made will firstly be in my best interest. Secondly, it will also be to make my parents even more proud of me. Thirdly, I would promote the best interest of my homeland, Jamaica. But, the sky is the limit for me right now, so my future seems to be bright.



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