Rising Stars Special Edition Spotlight: Ashley Beaton & Christal Peterson

Ashley and Christal are the 2019 Women Leaders in College Sports- Rising Star Award winners! The Rising Star Award recognizes administrators who have made a significant contribution early in their career and show potential to make a leadership impact in the future. 

Ashley is a current NCAA Post-Graduate Intern for Division II Governance. Previously, Beaton was a Graduate Assistant for Athletic Administration at the University of North Georgia where she earned her master's degree in Business Administration.  A former volleyball student-athlete, Ashley received her bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Illinois – Springfield. Christal recently joined Baylor University as the Character Formation Coordinator, having previously been the Coordinator of Student-Athlete Success, Inclusion, and Leadership at Wheaton College. Prior to Wheaton College, Peterson earned her bachelor’s degree in Health Science Pre-Clinical at the University of Central Florida and was a 2x Second Team All-American sprinter on the track and field team. She went on to earn a dual master’s degree in Business Administration and Sports Business Management from the University of Central Florida, while working with Student-Athlete Welfare and Development.



As a Rising Star Award recipient, what has been the most impactful achievement in your career so far?

Ashley: I don’t think I can pinpoint just one, so some of them are taking a leap of faith and moving to work at University of North Georgia from the Midwest and learning so much more than I anticipated.  Getting the chance to help implement the Hawk Em 101 Student-Athlete Mentorship Program was extremely impactful as well. Recently, being offered the Division II Governance Post-Graduate Intern position at the NCAA. Being a part of the NCAA PGIP program is a huge accomplishment as there are so many amazing young professionals who apply, so being chosen for this internship was a dream of mine.

Christal: The most impactful achievement in my career thus far was being the recipient of the Ethnic, Minority, and Women’s Internship through the NCAA as the Coordinator of Student-Athlete Success, Inclusion and Leadership at Wheaton College. 

Having recently transitioned to a new role, what has been your biggest adjustment? (Christal)

Allowing myself grace in my new position. I was coming from a prior environment where I had to hit the ground running and figure things out along the way because it was just me. Being at Baylor now, where I have an actual team and they’ve shown to be supportive, I had to allow myself to not know what I am doing and be okay with it by asking questions to learn more about what my position currently is and could be in the long run. 

What is something you must have when you travel to a professional development event? (Ashley)

A water bottle (you have to stay hydrated)! Band-aids for those super cute shoes that may end up hurting. Business cards. Something to write with and on. Lastly, your smile!

What is your go-to 'power' outfit? (Christal)

I don’t have an outfit just yet, but I am a blazer type of person. As long as I have a statement blazer on, all is right with the world.

What is your favorite part about the Women Leaders National Convention and what are you most looking forward to this year? (Ashley)

The energy and connections! The Women Leaders National Convention has an infectious energy that’s hard not to be a part of. It makes the experience so much more impactful. Also, being able to reconnect with your network and former coworkers is wonderful. It is such a supportive environment that will encourage you to reach outside your comfort zone and learn from others. I am most looking forward to seeing so many amazing women, like my North Georgia Family, my past and present Women Leaders mentors, connections I made last year and so many more. 

What advice do you have for first-time attendees that might not be as obvious? (Christal)

Relax! This is the time of year where it’s a time of celebration! So, enjoy yourself, go to the panels, mingle with people you don’t know, compliment that woman, give your neighbor a high five, just relax and soak up everything. 

What do you consider your key-to success? (Ashley)

 I’ve mentioned it a previous answer but stepping outside my comfort zone. I have realized if I don’t make a conscious effort to do so, I’ll stay there and that’s not how I am able to learn and grow.

Women Leaders has been a #Force4 change the past forty years, what are you a #Force4? (Christal)

I Am a #Force4 serving others. 

Who would you like to thank for helping you excel in your career?

Ashley: Where do I begin?! From the beginning, my family, my boyfriend Chance Simpson, my NCAA Division II National SAAC family (peers and liaisons), my North Georgia Family (especially, Lindsay Reeves, Brynn Seidenstricker and Mary Rob Plunkett), my Division II family (especially, Ryan Jones, Maritza Jones and Terri Gronau) and all of the amazing, young professionals that I have the opportunity to be surrounded by in this industry. Success is seldom a result of one person alone and I am so lucky to have such an amazing support system.

Christal: That’s a hard one because there not just one person to thank for taking the time to pour into me the season that they did. So I would like to shout out where it all started, UCF. Everyone there from the time I was a student-athlete to a graduate student. Wheaton College for being the best post graduate decision. But a few key players, Coach Caryl from recruiting me. Cori and Marcus for inspiring me to do this and hiring me to be on their team at Baylor Jessie Mills for helping me through the many breakdowns and small nudges to be independent. Bryan Cunningham for introducing me to DeVos and opening his home to me. Dr. Richard Lapchick and D18 for being the hardest but most rewarding 18 mos. ever. Ben Rodriguez and Brandi Stuart for giving me a chance as their GA and Taunita Stephenson for playing a big role in where I am now. 

Rising Stars is a members-only program designed to assist emerging professionals in developing, connecting, and advancing in their careers. If you're a student, intern, graduate assistant, or young professional with less than three years of full-time experience, this is the program for you!

Joining is easy: First, follow the Rising Stars community. Click here, then select "Follow Community" on the right-hand side. (You must be logged into your Women Leaders account).

Once you've joined, you're automatically opted in to receive the Rising Stars monthly newsletter, you'll be invited to Rising Stars Circle calls, you can join our closed Facebook group, and you'll hear from past Rising Stars Award recipients about how they kicked glass and exceeded all expectations!

If you have questions or problems logging in, contact Ashlynn Fields.