Reporting live from the center of a rattlesnake pit to breaking top news stories, Ashley Gooden’s ’14 career as a broadcast journalist is one full of surprises.

Gooden’s college career didn’t actually begin with the Auburn family. A Birmingham native, she decided to attend Tennessee State University but soon realized it wasn’t the right fit for her. Coming from a family of Auburn lovers, they inspired her to make the switch.

“I transferred to Auburn my sophomore year, after hearing how exciting my brother’s experience was,” Gooden said. ” I looked Auburn up and saw how many amazing opportunities could be offered to me as a journalist, and I knew it would be right.” Gooden took advantage of the student-run media organization Eagle Eye TV, where she thrived off of the hands-on experience.

“If I didn’t do Eagle Eye, I wouldn’t have had a clue,” she laughed. “It was because of that experience that I was even prepared for my first job.  I really valued my time there; even those weekly deadlines were just so helpful for that experience.”

While in college, Gooden interned at Channel 2 Action News in Atlanta, where she got a chance to see a version of her future.

“It was just so amazing working there,” she said. Growing up, Gooden never thought she would find a career that fits so well with her personality.

“I’ve always like attention,” Gooden says. “I was the one who would volunteer to do all the public speaking in church and school, but I never thought there would be a job for it until I actually thought about the news.”

Her dream of being a reporter was born after she shadowed her local news anchor, Janet Hall, in high school.

“I just fell in love with it,” Gooden said. “Seeing her behind the scenes really got me interested and I think from then on I thought ‘I can really do this.'”

She found that this profession brought out two of her favorite activities — helping people, and being the first to get the inside scoop.

“I’ve always been a pretty nosy person, but I also just really enjoy getting to meet people all the time. It makes every day different. Not having a desk job allows me to go on all of these adventures.” What Gooden didn’t expect was where those adventures would take her. Her first job after graduating with a degree in Radio, Television, and Film led her to the small town of Abilene, Texas reporting for KTAB news.

Working in Texas as a multimedia journalist, she reported for a lifestyle show and was then promoted to weekend anchor.

“Abilene is in the middle of nowhere, but I got to do all of these snake-related stories and never, in my wildest dreams, would I have thought I would be standing in the middle of a rattlesnake pit for a roundup doing a live shot,” Gooden said.

After leaving Texas, Gooden moved to Myrtle Beach, S.C. where she now works as a weekend anchor for ABC 15 and Fox 28. As a fixture in many people’s homes, while reporting the news, Gooden is still surprised when people recognize her locally.

“It’s still so weird to me that people know me locally — I’ll be in the grocery store in total ‘bum’ mode and people come up to me and sometimes ask to take a picture,” she said.

It is because Gooden is a public figure that she gets opportunities to share her passion with children in schools.

“I absolutely love visiting schools, because it gives the kids a chance to see what they can do and be when they grow,” Gooden said. “It’s amazing to see how amazed they are at something that I love doing.”