Ashley Long, Alum and Admissions Co-Lead, on Why Crossroads

Zoe ConnerUncategorized

Crossroads is special to me personally because it’s a place where students can really be seen and really grow into themselves. We provide a vital space where they are learning who they are and trying to figure out their place in the world. As a person, I have experienced Crossroads from a couple different domains: being at Crossroads as a student, then as an employee, and now as a parent, I see it from all different aspects.

As a student, I saw myself grow here and found my niches. I came to Crossroads from a big public school where basketball was my thing. And that’s who you are. You play sports, you’re a jock, that’s who you are. When I came to Crossroads, I found out, yes, I am a jock, but I’m also a theater kid, I’m also a dance kid, I’m also really good at history. Here, I realized that I can fit into all of these spaces in a world that wants to make you check a box. That is really transformative for any student.  

Coming back to Crossroads as an adult to work did the same thing for me. I came into a very specific job as Registrar, but through forging relationships with the staff and the kids, I learned I am so much more here than a job title. The same experience that you give the students, you receive it as an adult. 

As a parent, it’s so valuable to come into the building and see that you’re so much more than just the parent of a child. You’re part of the community now. You have a voice. If you see something that needs change, as a parent, you’re being heard. You’re being listened to. Seen & Supported, Known & Needed really applies to every person who comes through those doors, whether it be a student, a potential student, a faculty or staff member, or a parent. No matter who you are, you fall into the community so seamlessly. Being in those different positions as a faculty member, as a student, and as a parent, you really see it in action in all three of those spaces.

As Registar, I work with parents whose students were already enrolled here. Working in admissions, I get to see a parent and a student through from the time they come in to tour the building until their first day of school. It’s such a fulfilling thing when you have a kid who comes from a school where they aren’t seen, and they come in and they’re nervous, but they feel safe here. I had a tour last week and I asked the student, “What are you looking for in a school?” And they just said, “Somewhere where I’ll be accepted.” 

For me, that is what Crossroads is. Whether you’re an adult, a parent, or a student, we’re going to accept you and you’re going to be part of this community. Crossroads does a really great job painting an accurate picture of what the real world is actually like. When you go into the workforce and you work at a job, you don’t know who’s going to be at the desk or cubicle next to you or out in the field with you. It could be anyone of any race, gender identity, socioeconomic status, or religion. At Crossroads, these kids really have an opportunity to see an accurate picture of the actual world. They’re not growing up in a bubble and then being thrust out into the world without any real experience. 

And they see it not only amongst their peers, they see it amongst their teachers and their staff members and amongst their parents, because the parent volunteers who help keep the school running, they’re all so different. They all come from different walks of life. You have kids who have both parents, you have kids who have one parent. You have kids who are with their grandparents. You have some kids who have two moms or two dads. And everyone is accepted into the fold when you’re part of this community. Out in the real world, in real life, everyone has a unique background and perspective. And so, I feel like we are preparing them for the world, not only academically, but in all aspects. 

Crossroads is both like what the world is and what it can be. We create this beautiful community and share it with kids, who are going to be the movers and the shakers and the change makers. These kids are going to become the Ruth Bader Ginsburgs and the Martin Luther King Jrs of their generation. The ideal world these heroes worked towards, we have right here at Crossroads. 

Being able to have the opportunity to be a student here and to be able to put my kids here, it’s so meaningful that I can’t even put it into words. As a parent, you know your kid is going to be safe here. They are going to discover what they choose for their life and who they are. They’re not going to be subject to some of the stuff that they’re going to be subject to out there in the world, but also not naive to it. They’re going to be smart and good, and they will strongly believe that everyone, including themselves, deserves to be respected. 

The kids who leave here are prepared to be smart and successful and do well, but to use that superpower for good, you know, in our world and to make change. To go onto a college campus that is not as open minded as Crossroads and bring what they’ve learned from Crossroads to this new place. That’s what we want. That’s how we change the world, right? 

Crossroads is laying the foundation to make change in our world. That’s why it’s so special and it’s such an important part of our community here in St. Louis, which is one of the most diverse cities but also unfortunately segregated. Crossroads creates hope that there can be a world where commonality exists, and where everybody can respect each other and be happy, and even though we have such a special place everyone is constantly still doing the work to become better.When you walk around in the world, that ideal feels really far out of reach, but then you come to a place like Crossroads and realize that it’s closer than you think.