• The Hive

HerStory: Ashley Mata

Updated: Nov 10, 2020


I find matriarchy to be less about mothering in the sense of reproduction, and more about a feminine perspective on leadership and responsibility - one that does not always agree or align with patriarchal expectations. I believe it's about asking ourselves: how can we make space for another? Making space is what we are doing when we choose to carry a life in our womb, after all.

Those "cravings" we have when pregnant? Consider them less about wacky hormones and more about receiving notifications from the life we are fostering. That house we are governing? Consider it less about making sure the flooring matches the furniture, and more about creating the first culture of unconditional love and acceptance that those we lead will experience and develop a set of standards from. I believe a desire to lead must first include an interest and curiosity as to whom we are leading. What do they need? What do they require - for healthy growth and development. Are they free to be themselves, or are they expected to fit a predesigned template?

The ancient Greek teacher and philosopher, Protagoras, said: man is the measure of all things. It means we are who those we lead say we are. If we are good teachers, it is our students who have the right to say so, not us. If we are a good friend, it is our friends who hold the power to measure our goodness. I may be a teacher by profession, but if I'm inspiring or influential - well, that's for someone, who has learned something from me, to say.

The Hive was conceived as a space for local femmes to tap into potential, explore ambitious pursuits, and be connected to others, where we can offer both guidance and support to one another - as we are all connected within a healthy ecosystem. If we are to ever know what our community needs, we must place ourselves at the intersection of diverse experiences.

This segment of HerStory is a Q & A with Ashley Mata, graphic design student at North Idaho College, local barista, and one of our family's favorite humans. Her unique perspective of living here in CDA, if we truly care about the current culture and climate within our community, is one we ought closely listen to.


Melinda: Introductions, please.

Ashley: Sources say she is: vivid, eccentric, off-beat, unprompted, and illuminating,

M: What are you studying at North Idaho College?

A: Web/Graphic Design Program

M: When did you start at NIC, and have you been a full time student or a mix of full/part time?

A: I started at NIC last year fall 2019 right after I graduated high school. I’ve always been a full time student.

M: Do you work? Where and about how many hours a week?

A: I work at coffee shop in your local neighborhood. Ever since school started I only work about 15 to 17 hours a week because my classes run 8am to 7pm 3 days a week so I don’t have much time to work. I usually only get about 1 day off a week.

Graphic by Ashley Mata

M: What have you enjoyed most about the Graphic Design Program at NIC?

A: Something that always takes my breath away is seeing my work tangibly. My first year, I remember doing a little side project and got one of my drawings printed on a sticker, and I remember getting it in the mail and seeing my work printed for the first time. It was a euphoric experience. I gave them to my close friends and now even seeing them on their water bottles and in their houses still takes my breath away.

M: Any specific teachers you want to give a shout out to?

A: With all of my teachers being older men, makes it’s hard to see eye-to-eye when it comes to modern art. Sometimes I feel that the grading of projects or designs are biased, because it is only seen through the male perspective, they only see through this one lens. It’s also hard for me to shine a light on any of my teachers because I don’t always feel respected as a woman.

M: What have been some challenges in the program, for you?

A: In school we’re told many times not to make anything political and being a woman of color and experiencing everything that I’ve experienced i use my designs as an outlet sometimes. I struggle with this in presentations when talking about what has influenced my designs because I tend to limit myself. restricting anything political is a way of silencing students and I don’t stand with that, I try my best to not comply with that.

M: How has COVID changed your school experience? Are there both good/bad elements?

A: I was recently quarantined for two weeks so honestly going back to school was a bit hard I like working from the comfort of my space. I feel like graphic design is truly for me because I practice self discipline well and I’m able to manage my time to complete my projects.

M: Has your “plan” for using your degree changed at all during the course of the program? For instance, did you start off wanting to join a specific sector of the industry that may have evolved into a different focus now that you’re at the end of the program?

A: Yes, when I started the program I signed up for web design but the year I started they made it mandatory to take both graphic and web design so I got to learn both but I’m glad I did because I’m very passionate about graphic design.

M: What would you say has changed the most about YOU during the program? (Personal growth/development)

A: I think ever since I started college I’ve been paying a lot more attention to my mental health. Over the last year I met some of the most inspiring people and I’ve grown so much as a person. I really owe it to my close friends for how far I’ve come they encourage and support everything I do and I’m really grateful I get to experience these phenomenal women.

M: Since you will be graduating in May, what are your plans? Where would you like to start?

A: This is something I ask my self every day but I have so many options I’m considering going to a university at a good school however in my second semester this last year I’m going to try to find an internship just so I get a touch of what it’s like in the graphic design field. Overall I’m very passionate about graphic design working from logo design to poster design to web design I would be happy working for any company that is as passionate as I am. I think there’s beauty in uncertainty this degree has set me up for many different paths and I’m excited to discover them.

M: Knowing you are about to have a degree you can take with you wherever you desire to live/travel - where would be your dream location (or just a home base if you plan on working remotely)

A: I would love to move to Portland or Seattle or san Francisco when I graduate but as soon as I have a couple years of experience under my belt I would love to live somewhere outside of the U.S. and work for design companies around the world.

M: What advice would you offer to someone who is maybe on the fence about investing into their own education right now?

A: If you have the opportunity to invest into your education that it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself, especially if you’re passionate about about what you’re going to study. GO FOR IT!! THIS IS YOUR SIGN!!

M: What would you like to see going on at The Hive? What event/class would be of interest to you?

A: My professors always tell me about events they have to meet people seeking graphic design opportunities and I would love to see that kind event at the hive! I would love to meet passionate women and entrepreneurs in this area who want to collaborate!

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