Alumna Ashley Hawk is living proof that, as long as you do what inspires you, you will find success.
Hawk is an LMU alumna who now has her own show on Food Network called "How Healthy Happens," but that isn't quite where she started out.
After receiving her bachelor's degree in screenwriting and communication studies Hawk went immediately into the entertainment field, working at ABC. She said that she was working up to 80 hours a week. "I [was] not afraid to put in the time and to put in the hours," she said. But after working that schedule for four years, she felt that she couldn't do it forever.
Following her gut, she left her stable job behind to take advantage of an opportunity to teach English to children in Costa Rica. Hawk noted that it was not hard for her to leave ABC because she never likes getting too comfortable. "As long as you leave the door open, you're never really leaving something behind," she said, which proved to be true in her later career choices.
Upon entering Liberia, a city in Costa Rica, she witnessed a sort of food desert, where all food had to be imported. She noted that fresh food was limited to local farmers' markets, and incredibly hard to attain, leaving the people there with a difficult time managing their personal nutrition.
"I really enjoy teaching, but what I couldn't help but ignore was just seeing the [poor] nutrition and the nutrition impact," said Hawk.
This inspired her to pivot her focus. She saw that the people of Costa Rica needed guidance on how to get proper nutrition because, in her eyes, it was the first step in creating a better life for themselves. "I wanted to teach something that is going to make a difference," said Hawk.
Upon returning from Costa Rica, Hawk immediately jumped into her goal of pursuing nutrition. She started taking classes at her local community college in northern California. She instantly fell in love with it and applied for the master's program at San Jose State University. Eventually, she graduated with a master's degree in nutritional science in Dec. 2020.
She is currently a "registered dietician eligible" and hopes to officially be a registered dietician on Nov. 24 when she will be taking her exam.
However, even though Hawk had ventured into this new passion, she kept on getting calls from her old life. "I would still get these opportunities and people calling and saying, 'Hey are you available to freelance? Can you produce on this? Or can you do that?'" she said.
She declined offer after offer until someone brought her an opportunity that would let her combine her two passions. One of her colleagues suggested that she produce something in the nutrition space.
"I really didn't see this coming when I went into nutrition," she said. But, as soon as she got the ball rolling, her new career took off. She booked her first live spot on a news station in Phoenix and the opportunities continued to come her way.
"I think I had done something like 20 live nutrition segments in under a year," she said. She noted that stations loved to work with her because she could provide services on both sides of the camera, making the process of production very efficient.
Now, the same thing is true on her show "How Healthy Happens," which began airing on Food Network on Oct. 22.
"How Healthy Happens" is all about providing those quick and easy nutrition tips and tricks to make your life easier and more efficient. "But, what I really like to focus on are things that don’t cost any money," she said.
Hawk always wants to leave her audience with a helpful lesson so that when they have walked away from their TV, they've learned something.
Hawk encourages future LMU alums to pursue their creative endeavors. "We're so lucky that we have the opportunity to continually evolve, especially in your career. And being able to bring all the skills that you have fostered throughout the years leading up to that, that's a gift," she said.
She beamed about a recent encounter with another fellow LMU alumna who had a similar experience, graduating and unsure what aspect of media she wanted to go into.
Rest assured, they have both found success. "Take the bad news with the good news. You could write a whole book on how the bad news is actually the good news," Hawk advised.