Friends for Life

Marielle Rando ’14 and Ashley Edwards ’14 enjoy a coffee break.

Marielle Rando ’14 and Ashley Edwards ’14, have been able to face many of the challenges of life after graduation together.

Between finding a place to live, starting a full-time job, paying bills, and being distanced from friends and family, life can be stressful for recent college graduates. Fortunately for best friends Marielle Rando ’14 and Ashley Edwards ’14, they have been able to face many of the challenges of life after graduation together. The two recent graduates are sharing an apartment in Richmond, Virginia.

This isn’t the first time Rando and Edwards have shared a new experience—or lived under the same roof. They met for the first time at Randolph when Edwards, a transfer student, was placed in Main 267 as Rando’s roommate for the spring 2011 semester. Rando had missed an email about Edwards’s arrival, and was surprised to find her eating Goldfish crackers on the top bunk when she returned from winter break.

“We became instant best friends,” Rando said. “Ashley is truly a gift from God for me. We made up funny dances, laughed, cried, and experienced all of college together. We could sit and talk and laugh hysterically for hours. I have no idea what I would’ve done without her!”

After that fateful first year in Main 267, Rando and Edwards chose to room together again as sophomores on the second floor of Bell Hall, where they became friends with all of their neighbors. One of the roommates’ fondest memories that year was Valentine’s Day, when the friends decorated doors and exchanged cards.

The two returned to Main 267 their junior year, where Edwards recalls another of the roommates’ traditions—writing their favorite stories and quotes and taping them to the back of their door.

“We would laugh and laugh and laugh at those quotes and relive the experiences,” Edwards said. “But all in all, I just really enjoy spending time and talking to Marielle. I don’t think there is anyone in the world who makes me laugh harder than Marielle does, which means we always make memories when we’re together.”

As seniors, Rando lived in a single room in Main, and Edwards a single room in Bell. But after graduating from Randolph, they reunited and moved into a small townhouse together in Richmond. While Rando began graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Sports Leadership, Edwards sent her application to a staffing agency, which placed her at SunTrust Mortgage, Inc. Though she never dreamed she would enjoy a career in banking, Edwards has risen through the ranks to become a team lead for property preservation.

Edwards’s experiences at Randolph have helped her in her new career.

“Just recently, I presented to about 5,000 people and absolutely nailed the presentation,” she said. “I cannot speak highly enough about how having a liberal arts education has helped me in the working world. I had no idea that the things I was learning in college would have such a positive impact on me as a professional. Pulling all-nighters at Randolph helped me understand that no matter how long it takes, I’m going to get the job done and get it done well.”

“Ashley is the epitome of what success looks like after obtaining a liberal arts degree,” Rando added. “Her major was in political science and Spanish, but now she excels in the business world. The skills she learned in college translate every day into what she does and the value she provides to SunTrust.”

Rando has also found success as a young graduate. She is serving as the director of programs and public relations for Sportable, a nonprofit that provides adaptive sporting and recreational opportunities to athletes with physical disabilities and visual impairments. A sports and exercise major at Randolph, she began working for Sportable as a graduate assistant and helped start a power wheelchair soccer league before accepting her current position in April 2015.

Working at Sportable allows Rando to live her dream of a career in the sports field, while also helping her use athletics as a mechanism to bring about positive change in people’s lives.

“My role at Sportable fits all of these things, and I honestly could not be happier,” Rando said. “Adaptive sports and the Paralympics are a really booming industry. I hope our company will grow to become the premier Virginia adaptive sports nonprofit.”

In her role, Rando directly oversees six of the 12 sports the company offers, and is in charge of its communication strategies and public outreach. One of her public presentations took place at Edwards’s office during Disability Awareness Week earlier this year, and the two friends shared a laugh when they realized they were wearing the same outfit.

“One of my favorite parts about when Marielle and I roomed together in college is that we wear pretty much the same sizes and always shared clothes. She has great taste,” Edwards said with a laugh.

She found herself impressed with her friend’s knowledge and professionalism during the presentation.

“She had some athletes with her to talk about what Sportable means to them, and she proceeded to talk about the mission of the company and what kind of work they do. To be able to watch my best friend passionately presenting about her work at my work was a really cool moment.”

Rando and Edwards temporarily parted ways as roommates last summer while Rando completed an internship with the Seattle Seafair in Seattle, Washington. Edwards moved into a different apartment, and upon her return, Rando moved back in with her parents. However, the two have since reunited as roommates.

Even when they weren’t living in the same space, Rando and Edwards continued to get together at least once a week to try new restaurants, meet for happy hour, or attend various events in the city. They would talk about work and life in general, and reminisce about their time at Randolph. They are often joined by other alumni living in the area.

“I think our friendship has stayed mostly the same, but we are now able to bounce ideas and stories off of each other to help navigate through the professional world,” Edwards said. “It’s comforting to know that I have someone around that will be available day or night if I need something or just need to talk.”

“Being close has helped us both transition into post-grad life,” Rando added. “I think after college, you can get depressed. Not only are you not around all your friends at all times, but you’re also trying to figure out your life and there’s a lot of pressure. Living with or at least near Ashley has helped with that because I felt like I could talk to her about everything and she understood completely. I am so lucky to call her my best friend and confidant.”