Inspiring Wildcat: Ashlynn Kirrane '25

A performer at the 2022 Rhode Island Folk Festival, Ashlynn Kirrane '25 plays six different instruments and writes compelling, heartfelt songs but a calling even higher than music led the Sandy Hook, Connecticut native to JWU's Providence Campus to study political science.

In her first year at JWU Kirrane served as an officer of the Student Government Association, winning an election to become its president; helped found JWU's chapter of the Providence Food Insecurity Collective (PFIC) in order to combat food insecurity and launched an advocacy group to push for family court reform in her home state.

The sky is the limit for this Inspiring Wildcat, who shares what brought her to JWU, what opportunities she has pursued so far and what she'll set her mind and heart on next.

What was your first year like at JWU?

My first year at JWU was one of the most formative years of my life. Between the opportunities and experiences that I had and the friends that I made, I feel that I grew so much as a person within just two semesters.

What made you choose JWU and the Providence Campus?

It’s a funny story how I ended up here at JWU, as it wasn’t even a school that I was originally considering due to the location. As a political science major, I was naturally drawn to the universities that were closer to Washington D.C. Additionally, the majority of the schools I was looking at were public universities since I believed that would be the more financially responsible choice for myself and my family. This changed once I started considering private schools and saw the obvious difference in the available opportunities and financial support. Throughout my search, I found Johnson & Wales University. While it wasn’t close to D.C., it was close to my home in Sandy Hook, Connecticut and by being able to go to school in a city, there were still plenty of political opportunities available to me here in Providence.

After I toured the campus, I fell in love with the balance between the city life on Downcity and the more peaceful atmosphere on Harborside. After my first visit, it was clear that JWU checked more of my boxes than any other university and it became obvious that this is where I was meant to be.

How have you gotten to know other members of the JWU community?

Within my first semester, I made sure to take advantage of the various clubs and organizations that we have here on campus. For starters, I joined JWU’s Student Government Association (SGA) and served as a senator for the duration of my freshman year. This opportunity allowed me to not only make friends with similar interests but also helped me to learn more about my university and the political dynamic on campus. I also helped to start the Providence Food Insecurity Collective (PFIC) JWU Chapter here on campus. PFIC is a student-run organization working to eradicate food insecurity within our community and nationwide. We strive to provide resources to those in need while trying to remain as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible.

studio headshot of Ashlynn Kirrane '25

"Within my first semester, I made sure to take advantage of the various clubs and organizations that we have here on campus." - Ashlynn Kirrane '25

As for this upcoming year, I was elected in April to serve as the SGA President and intend to do so with the best interest of the student body in mind. I’m excited to advocate for my fellow students and work with faculty to improve life on campus and in the classroom.

How did you get into music and songwriting – and how did you connect to the Rhode Island music scene?

I started playing piano when I was five years old, then started playing trumpet in my fourth-grade band. I then picked up the flute in sixth grade, then guitar in seventh, piccolo in freshman year, and saxophone (briefly) in sophomore year. My true love, however, is songwriting which I’ve been doing since I was 11 years old. For a while, I strongly debated pursuing music and studying it in school; however, I changed my mind in light of the political chaos our country began spiraling into. I knew that I could bring my music to college even if I was studying politics, but couldn’t necessarily bring politics to a music school.

action shot of Ashlynn Kirrane '25 singing and playing guitar on stage

Once I got to campus, I found an open mic at a local bistro and began performing there on a weekly basis. This is how I first joined the music scene here in Providence. It was at one of these performances that I was asked to perform at the Rhode Island Folk Festival on August 28, 2022, on the Emerging Songwriters Stage.

What’s next in your accomplishments at JWU?

My next year at JWU will certainly revolve around my role as SGA President. I’ve been working tirelessly over the summer to meet with different campus directors and academic deans to prepare for the coming year. I hope I can help SGA grow in numbers, as well as increase our impact and presence on campus.

Have you started thinking about where you’d like to intern and what you’d like to experience in that role?

Ideally, I would love to intern in the office of a U.S. Congressman to be able to really immerse myself in the career I hope to pursue one day.

Who or what inspires you?

My mom is a great inspiration of mine. I've watched her continue to overcome adversity throughout my entire life. She has taught me that being strong is far different than being brave since strength comes from continued bravery rather than a single moment.

How do you hope to inspire others?

I hope that I can help other people understand the importance of helping those around us. I truly believe that as humans, we have a moral obligation to care about the well-being of those around us and do something to help them if need be. We are all privileged in one way or another and it's crucial that we use that to help those in our communities that are struggling.

What do you envision beyond JWU for you?

In March, I started an organization called Connecticut Advocates for Family Court Reform, which has grown to have over 100 members across two social media platforms. Our purpose is to work toward reforming one of our state’s most dysfunctional and negligent systems. We aim to advocate for and support all survivors of the system while using their stories to push for change. I see myself continuing on this path to focus on improving our nation’s courts to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all families that are in them. In the future, I certainly see myself pursuing a career in public policy, social justice and advocacy.


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