Vanguard’s senior digital media, Ashlea Phenicie, studied public relations and graphic design at Central Michigan. She excelled in the program, but was better known for her activism. She was involved in several activist groups and frequently spoke about social issues.
At the height of her activism, she served as president of Voices for Planned Parenthood and wrote a sex education column for the campus newspaper, CM-Life.
Phenicie’s views were largely shaped by a high teen pregnancy rate at her high school. When Phenicie graduated in 2012, nearly 20 of her peers had become teen mothers.
After graduation she kept in touch with some of the young mothers and watched as their paths diverged. While she was applying for scholarships, she noticed her peers were struggling to find career or college options that would accommodate children. Even though the young parents wanted to succeed, and were arguably more mature, they had far fewer options.
These experiences encouraged her to advocate for stronger support systems for young parents, comprehensive sexual health education in schools and increased access to birth control. She also works to expand the often times one-dimensional dialogue surrounding abortion.
Phenicie believes that because abortion is such a divisive topic, more nuanced aspects of the issue are often left out. In her opinion, people spend far too much time calling each other murderers or misogynists instead of finding common ground and real solutions for people struggling with unexpected pregnancies.
“Yes, I believe a woman who wants an abortion should be able to have one, but I also believe that we should work to provide a woman who wants to continue a pregnancy with the support system to do so. If she’s only choosing abortion because she feels like she can’t support the child, that’s not a real choice,” said Phenicie. “I feel like they are always left out of the conversation.”
Phenicie thinks pro-choice and pro-life advocates could find common ground if they turned their eyes to this sub-section of the issue. Paid maternity leave, affordable childcare, parent-friendly university campuses, and support programs for teen parents are initiatives that both sides should be able to agree on.
Phenicie designs graphics, curates and creates social media content and directs digital media strategy among many other tasks. She continues to volunteer with Planned Parenthood outside of work.