The University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC) Human Resources Management professor Dr. Ashley Dellosa grew up in a small town without streetlights in chilly Northern Wisconsin. Annual snowfall averages were above 40 inches and winter temperatures around -3 0 degrees were common – yet Dr. Dellosa was a national championship swimmer.
Although she didn’t have a clear career path, Dr. Dellosa knew she wanted to someday succeed in business. After college, she would travel to Phoenix, Arizona. Dr. Dellosa chose Phoenix for the energizing sunshine and a great job with the Arizona Diamondbacks – where she met the love of her life and kick started a career in human resources. The death of her mother would surprisingly provide perspective that pivoted her career and allowed her to see her expertise is giving back to others.
“My mom being sick and dying at such a young age completely changed everything about my life, my career trajectory, my focus on my family, triathlons,” Dr. Dellosa recalls. “I think more so than anything – obviously I am very sad and devastated that my mom is no longer here – but I wouldn’t change the perspective it has given me.” She continued, “I would have had some insane career goals with every year of my life planned out, and now I think I have a better perspective.”
These days, she focuses on empowering UAGC students and helping them feel at ease and confident. Read on to learn more about Dr. Dellosa, core faculty for the Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources Management and Master of Human Resources Management programs in the in the Forbes School of Business and Technology® at UAGC.
Traditional College, Then Non-traditional College
Growing up the oldest of five, with two younger brothers and two younger sisters in a household where sports and education were important, Dr. Dellosa’s life was hyper-focused on competitive swimming. In high school, her days were filled with swim practice and competitions.
Not surprisingly, Dr. Dellosa received a sports scholarship for swimming, so she attended a small traditional college in-state, where she excelled as a Division I swimmer.
A high school teacher suggested Dr. Dellosa major in business administration, after seeing how much she enjoyed her accounting class, so she did, but her life continued to revolve around swimming. She was part of her school’s conference championship team three years in a row. Swimming was her identity – so much so that she didn’t give much thought to her next steps or what she would do career-wise.
Dr. Ashley Dellosa runs in an IRONMAN triathalon while her family cheers her on.
“My identity was ‘swimmer,’” she says. “When I graduated from college, I knew for me personally, I had to shed that immediately to be able to transition into the workforce and into adulthood. I think that’s something that all collegiate athletes struggle with.”
After graduation, Dr. Dellosa decided she was going to put all her time into her career. She knew exactly where she wanted to go. She recalled traveling from Wisconsin to Florida in college for swim training camps. There in the Florida sunshine, she performed her best swim times ever, convinced it was the sunshine that invigorated her.
“I remember noticing everyone else was so exhausted from the training, and they would lounge all day to recover,” she recalls. “But I would get my best times after training, and I reflected on it. I remember thinking to myself, ‘I get energy from sunshine, and this is a place where I would be better, I would be happier and healthier.’”
After graduating, Dr. Dellosa packed her bags and moved to Phoenix, where she began her business career in sales with the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team. Soon after, she met her husband Mike, who is now a VP celebrating nearly 15 years with the major league baseball team. They still live in Phoenix, and have two young daughters.
“He was on a different career trajectory,” Dr. Dellosa says about meeting her husband back then. “He was so passionate about his career. He knew from a very young age what he wanted to do, and I wasn’t sure really. I knew I wanted to find success, and work with people and help people.”
Dr. Dellosa’s hunger for learning continued after she earned her bachelor’s in business administration. She also earned a master’s in education online. Early on in her career, starting at the Arizona Diamondbacks, she discovered an interest in working with Human Resources (HR).
“I love learning,” Dr. Dellosa says. “I love self-development. In my leadership days, I always found myself having a really great relationship with HR and the training department. I was so interested in everything they were doing. I found myself working really closely with them and doing a lot on the employee side, working with organizational leaders to develop processes and implement employee satisfaction programs. A really great human resources leader is truly a partner with organizational managers, and that’s just such an important connection, and I saw that, and became really passionate about it.”
To couple all her HR work together, she decided to go back to school to earn her master’s in human resources management online. She would earn her doctorate in organizational leadership online as well, giving her ample personal experience with non-traditional higher education programs.
“The best investment you can make is into yourself,” Dr. Dellosa says. “A higher education isn’t just about earning a degree. It exposes you to research, critical thinking, and can help add tools to your tool belt that no one can ever take away from you.”
A Mother Lost, But Perspective Gained
Dr. Dellosa gained leadership experience from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh – where she was a senior director of academics and finance for five years. She also worked as an associate dean at another online university.
About eight years ago in the midst of her career pre-teaching, Dr. Dellosa was a busy new mom and a senior leader with more than 100 individuals reporting up to her. Then her mom was diagnosed with a terminal illness, at an age far too young. To give Dr. Dellosa more flexibility, she switched to instructing full-time, and was able to travel once a month to visit her dying mom.
Left, Dr. Ashely Dellosa spends quality time with her mother and youngest daughter. Right, Dr. Dellosa poses with her husband and two daughters.
It was this experience that provided much perspective.
“Even though I obviously wish she was still here, I am grateful for the perspective it gave me in that so many of us are facing life-changing challenges,” Dr. Dellosa states. “These challenges make it even more important for faculty to have empathy for situations students are experiencing.”
“In today’s society, we are pulled in so many different directions. Twenty years ago, I firmly believe there was less pressure to ‘do everything’ and ‘be everything’ and I believe social media and always being able to ‘be reached’ is a large part of this. That, along with inflation, COVID-19, and many other stressors, can impact our students.”
Admittedly a private person, Dr. Dellosa was shy to discuss her achievements as a triathlete. She has completed eight IRONMAN triathlon events, and qualified for the IRONMAN World Championship in three of those events. In four races, she qualified for her professional license. While she continues to enjoy riding her bike for fun, she isn’t sure if she’ll enter any events in the future.
“It’s hard for me to think about long-term with things,” Dr. Dellosa admits, laughing. “My friends keep signing up for the events, and that’s usually how it happens.”
Her career advice for students? “Find out what gives you energy – maybe not what makes you happy or what you enjoy doing the most – but what energizes you. If you’re energized from what you’re doing, that’s going to lead to success and happiness.”