In her prepared speech for the Wellesley-North Easthope Fall Fair ambassador competition, Ashley Jeffries opened with a quote from the late poet Maya Angelou.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
She then proceeded to bring the house down.
“I am who I am because I want to make people feel like smiling. I want to hand out laughter the way Oprah Winfrey hands out free cars. Like, ‘you get a smile! And you get a smile! Look under your chairs, you all get to laugh so hard your stomachs hurt!’”
She continued, “I am who I am because I believe in the power of a smile, and I know that a good laugh can turn any bad day good.”
With confidence, charm and wicked humour, the 17-year-old Wellesley resident stood out from an exceptional field of six young women to take the 2014 ambassador crown at the Wellesley Arena September 9.
After the contest, Jeffries described her emotions.
“I was so shocked (to win),” she explained. “Everyone that was up there was spectacular, they did an amazing job. When I moved here 11 years ago, I remember seeing the ambassadors up on stage and that was my first taste of a small-town princess. I always kept that in me, that I really wanted to take part. But as I got older, I learned what an ambassador meant, it is a representative. As I got more involved in the community I realized that this is something that I am interested in.”
During her time at Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School, Jeffries chaired the publicity committee on the student activities council, hosted seminars on the power of positivity at the Waterloo-Oxford student leadership conference and won the school’s talent show. An accomplished singer and actress, Jeffries has been a member of the Wellesley Theatre for three years and regularly performs jazz, chamber and appassionato concerts.
Now, she will tour agricultural fairs across the province and attend the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies convention at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto.
She is excited for the opportunity.
“This year I just graduated from high school and I am taking a year off, so I plan on expanding my community involvement from being at my school, towards my whole town.”
And what does that mean, exactly?
“It means making the community an even better place than when I found it,” she explained. “And I found it in spectacular shape, so it’s a pretty hard job! It’ll mean getting involved as much as I can and giving all that I can of myself because the best gift is to give.”
Reigning ambassador Kelsey Bisch offered Jeffries some advice.
“Be yourself, have fun. Make sure you take advantage of all of the opportunities this adventure brings and make the most of it.”