Young Alumna of the Year Award

GaareAshley Baird-Gaare, Comm ’07
Mequon, Wis.

Ashley Baird-Gaare left her life and her family behind in Kansas to play soccer for Marquette. Today, Ashley is a successful Milwaukee technology leader, serving as SoftwareONE’s president for North America and the first female Extended Executive Board member for the global organization, which has a presence in more than 90 countries.

At Marquette, Ashley found a mission that aligned with her core personal values of excellence, faith, leadership, and service. She credits coaches Markus Roeders and Frank Palaez with creating a team-first, no-drama culture, where Ashley knew she would thrive. She recalls, “I felt confident that I could be my authentic self and that he [Coach Roeders] would challenge me to take my best game to new heights.”

During her freshman year, Ashley worked hard all season and earned a starting spot — just in time to tear her ACL. At first, she was devastated and unsure of her future performance, scholarship, and place on the team. With the support of her teammates, coach and trainers, Ashley recovered and overcame her injury to play harder and better. Under Ashley’s leadership, the women’s soccer team was ranked as high as No. 12 in the nation in 2007.

After graduation, Ashley realized how well her leadership skills on the field and her competitive nature translated to leadership skills in sales. She quickly climbed the leadership ladder at SoftwareONE. Ashley credits Marquette with giving her a transformative education and a foundation of resourcefulness to which she attributes her professional successes.

Fun Facts:

Name someone (past or present) with whom you'd like to have dinner.
My birth mother, Lori Baird, who passed away shortly after I was born.

Name a Marquette faculty or staff member who had an impact on you, and how.
Rudy Wade, our strength and conditioning coach, significantly impacted my life after I tore my ACL. He guided me through every mental and physical obstacle, teaching me how to overcome, push through the pain, and navigate the adversity during my healing. Rudy was the person who helped build my strength, determination, and perseverance. I attribute much of my success to his presence in my life during a time I needed to be both physically and mentally pushed. Because of him, I came back stronger than I ever thought possible.

What is one of your favorite Marquette memories?
During my first year in the BIG EAST, we played Notre Dame. It was a home game that was televised. We entered that game as the underdog, yet, magic happened. Our team synthesized on the field, outsmarting, out-maneuvering, and outplaying our competition, much to everyone's delight, winning 4-1! That day will forever live in my memory. A testament to how you win and lose as a team — every individual, whether on the field, on the bench, or cheering in the stands, makes an impact.


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