Growing up with two parents who worked in law enforcement has been a big influence in Ashley Smith’s life. From being introduced to serious social issues many teens wouldn’t know about to being questioned about her day like she’s a suspect, Ashley said her parent’s profession and passion have greatly influenced her. They have discussed various topics with her such as domestic violence and human trafficking to insure that she was aware of what was happening around her. Not only were her parents a component, but Ashley’s own research on social issues influenced her. “I got into social justice when I was in eighth grade and ever since then I’ve been really interested in it,” Ashley said. “It’s the reason why I want to pursue law.”
Through her research, Ashley learned more about what her parents taught her and even learned about the feminist movement. Learning about different social issues made her more mature, self-aware and cautious of what to do and say. “Most importantly, it made me reflect on how I fit in the world as a teenage black girl,” Ashley said. All of these influences have pushed her to pursue law. She is interested in any sort of law where she is helping others, such as civil law or environmental law.
To prepare for her future career, Ashley is attending James Madison University where she is majoring in political science. While she had other top choices, when she visited the JMU college campus, she liked it a lot. One lesson she brought with her from high school, is to “not procrastinate and always stay ahead of things.”
When she was in high school, Ashley stayed involved in school and the community. She excelled academically and graduated with a 3.9 GPA. Some organizations she participated in include Future Business Leaders of America, and she ran Track and Field. One of her favorite experiences was interning with the Richmond Police Department’s Community Care Unit. It taught her how important it is to stay involved with the community. She helped engage with the community during National Night Out, volunteered in the YMCA’s “Shop with a Cop,” participated as a Virginia Rules Camp counselor, and more. Ashley also volunteered with the Science Museum of Virginia Special Events.
One of Ashley’s biggest inspirations to continue pursuing her dream of serving the community is her father. “He always talks to me and encourages me to do anything,” Ashley said. She said he always tells her to go after her dreams and that she can do anything she puts her mind to.
Ashley is prepared to keep going for her dreams of working in law and being a part of social justice. “I can honestly say I have never been the same since social justice became a major part of my life,” Ashley stated in an essay. “It completely opened up a new world to my fourteen year old self and completely changed my outlook on life.”