The Pambassador: Ashley Robertson
October 17, 2012
Panda + Ambassador = Pambassador. That’s right, Ashley’s childhood dream came true when she was selected by China’s Chengdu Panda Research Centre to care for giant pandas.
With less than 1600 pandas left in the wild, Ashley was chosen out of 60,000 entries to cuddle and care for this adorable endangered creature that is considered China’s national treasure.
Truly a dream come true for anyone… especially Ashley, who can now check-off Pambassador on her to-do list…
where are you from?
I live in Orlando, Florida now. I was born in Fort Rucker, Alabama.
what were you doing a year ago?
A year ago I was planning my second trip to China to go on holiday with the other Pambassadors and visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
what do you do now and how did you get there?
Now I’m a photographer looking for a job at a corporation. I went to school at the University of Central Florida and got a degree in Marketing. I also went to Daytona State College and studied photography. I backpacked around Europe this year after I got my degree in photography and honed my craft, taking pictures every day.
what roll did your family play in helping you realize your dreams?
My family has always been very supportive of me chasing my dreams. My dad was a pilot in the Army, it was always his dream to fly. When I got the opportunity to work with pandas, he could’ve been selfish, but he supported and encouraged me every step of the way.
will you share a few things we may not know about the Giant Panda?
They evolved from being carnivores to being herbivores, but their digestive tract is still that of a carnivore. That’s why they have to eat so much bamboo, their bodies aren’t designed for that kind of consumption.They also take all the leaves off of a bamboo stalk and fold them together like a sandwich when they eat bamboo. It’s very cute! All pandas have different personalities. Each one of them have different strengths and weaknesses, they each have a different level of intelligence, and even a bit of a sense of humor.
what do you want to say to people who feel discouraged about their career goals?
Well unfortunately, I don’t have any words of wisdom in this area because I fall into this category. Becoming a Pambassador was a dream come true for me, it’s a title that gave me hope, joy, and opportunities to make a difference in the world. I guess I’d tell someone that’s discouraged about their career goals… think of something that makes you really happy when you do it. Like playing a sport or making a craft, and start doing it. Having that one hobby will make other things seem more exciting and eventually that hobby may fulfill you in more ways than you expected.
what do you like to do when you’re not with pandas?
I love to take pictures and travel, my next goal is to travel to Africa. I have a rescued dog named Panda that I love to hang out with. I’m a big fan of stand up comedy, I play flag football, and I enjoy deep sea fishing.
what is your other dream job?
I’d love to be a photojournalist for any organization that’s an advocate for the environment and protecting animals.
what’s next for ashley?
I’m currently applying for jobs around the country. I’m trying to start my career as a photographer and give back to the community. I’d like to volunteer more with the ALS Association and Lung Cancer research.
what do you collect?
I used to collect panda trinkets, but since I actually got to work with pandas, I decided that my money would be better spent on donating to causes that were important to me.
To see more of Ashley’s photography please visit AshRoPhoto.com.