Meet CSF Alumna Ashley 

Ashley graduated from Mount Tahoma High School (Tacoma, WA) in 2007. She received my Bachelor of Arts in Law, Societies & Justice from the University of Washington (Seattle campus) in 2012 and her Paralegal Studies Certificate from University of Washington (Tacoma campus) in 2014.
 
Currently, Ashley works at the Washington State Supreme Court as the Judicial Assistant for Justice Steven Gonzalez. Working at the highest court in our state is something she could have never have dreamed of growing up. In addition to the administrative functions of her job, she also gets the opportunity to work through complex legal issues and provide recommendations to the justices regarding whether a case merits review by the court. 
 
Ashley’s connection to CSF started in 2002 when her older sister was an early recipient of the Achiever’s Scholarship. As it turned out her sister did not accept the scholarship from CSF, and instead followed their mother’s footsteps into the military after she graduated from high school.  Ashley set her sights on CSF as something she wanted to look into once she got to high school. 
 
As a high school student, thinking about college was daunting. The thought of the unknown; not knowing if her family could afford it and not knowing if she was even good enough to get in was discouraging. Since her mom and sister both went into the military, Ashley believed that she would most likely follow a similar career path. When the time came, she decided to apply to the Achiever’s program. She told herself, “The worst they could say is no.” Fortunately, CSF did not say no. Ashley remembers crying once she got the news that she was accepted.
 
“CSF helped expand my vision of what I wanted for my life and what I was capable of.  They provided financial support, academic support, mentorship and professional development. All of which have played a significant part in my success and the person I’ve become today,” she states.
 
Ashley’s transition to college was difficult, academically and personally. Being a first generation college student can make one feel proud and accomplished but at the same time fearful.
 
Navigating those juxtaposed positions, being confident and fearful at the same time, was tough. She had to find her circle of people, those who would validate her feelings and would still encourage her to keep going. 
 
She sought out academic support through UW’s Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity. She joined an organization called Sisterhood, an organization created to support black women on campus academically, personally and professionally. Sisterhood was a space where she could meet other women who looked like her, where she could laugh, smile, counsel, be counseled, be vulnerable, to love, be loved, and unload the burdens she carried from being one of the few African-Americans on campus. It’s also where she developed her leadership skills. 
 
Roberto Lopez was Ashley’s CSF Achiever’s Scholarship Program Advisor and her boss when she served in the CSF AmeriCorps program. His mentorship was crucial to her growth from a student to a young professional. He really stressed the idea of professional development, making sure that Ashley took advantage of CSF’s Alumni Services, which were tremendous to her career growth. He always pushed Ashley to put her best foot forward, but assured her he would be there to support her so she didn’t have to do it alone. 
 
“What stands out now is how my ability to manage my fear in pursuit of chasing my dreams has impacted my degree of success,” she says.
 
When thinking about her experience as a high school and college student, she recalls a recurring feeling of fear. Being fearful about whether she was worthy enough to go to college, graduate college and having fear of what the future would hold. Ashley recalls an article where Michelle Obama shared her thoughts on fear. Obama said, “If we let [fear] consume us, then we don't move. If we allow fear to define one another, then we go down a very dark path. But [fear is] there. It's an emotion that we all feel, it just can't consume you.” Ashley feels the same way.
 
“The truth is fear is inevitable. My words of advice to CSF students would be to learn how to manage your fears. Surround yourself with supportive people and equip yourself with tools to help ease your fears.”