University of Southern Indiana

Ashley Hilton (2013)

My First Generation Story

As a first generation college student with dreams of an ambitious future, I have always taken every challenge thrown my way and tried to make the best of it. I grew up in a home where addictions and abuse were prevalent, and I constantly sought ways to better my situation. Reading books of all kinds, every spare moment of the day was my escape. I would lose myself in stories of people whose lives were like mine, until by some odd stroke of faith they were given the tools needed to persevere and ultimately succeed. Whether fiction or not, reading helped me gain a positive outlook on life—one that is rarely believed to be attainable when you come from a culture of poverty. Upon attending the University of Southern Indiana, I too was given the tools to no longer allow my circumstances to define me.

Since my acceptance into college, I have strived to consider every opportunity I have been given as a way to learn and grow into the professional I am learning to become. Upon attending the University of Southern Indiana, I became involved in the Honor’s Mentor/Mentee Program, as well as in tutoring my peers and participating as a BIG in Alpha Kappa Psi. Through these experiences and many others, I have grown accustomed to motivating others so that they too begin to believe in themselves. As someone who could have never imagined that I would one day be graduating from college—let alone as an Honor’s Scholar, Summa Cum Laude and President’s Medal Award recipient—I am beyond grateful for the individuals who believed in me along the way and encouraged me to achieve my dreams.

In the coming years I plan to attend graduate school and focus my studies on advocacy, leadership and social change efforts. My hope is that every underprivileged and marginalized population will one day be given the same opportunities as their peers to succeed in this world. Empowering communities, giving those who may have never had a voice the opportunity to speak out against injustice, and providing a resolution to social problems for a community—this is where my passion lies. Although many challenges have presented themselves along the way, I am eternally grateful to God, the scholarships that enabled me to attend college, and those who have continued to guide me.

About the Student

Ashley Hilton

Born in rural Indiana, Ashley has worked hard to achieve her many goals. In May, Ashley will graduate with a 4.0, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of Southern Indiana with her bachelor's in social work While attending USI, Ashley was a member of NASW, Phi Alpha Honor's Society, Alpha Kappa Psi and the Honor's Program. Her life's passion is to advocate and empower marginalized populations. She loves to volunteer and one day would like to start a nonprofit for young at-risk women and girls.

Student Stats

Name: Ashley Hilton (2013)
Age: 22
Year in School: Senior
Major: Social Work
Favorite Course: Social Justice
Dream Job: Executive Director of a Nonprofit Organization

About the School

University of Southern Indiana (New logo)

Founded in 1965, the University of Southern Indiana enrolls more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students in 70 undergraduate majors, 10 master's programs, and one doctoral program. The campus of this comprehensive public university is on 1,400 acres just outside of Evansville in southwestern Indiana.

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