Cherokee High School
A natural leader, Ashley Askins is described by band director Kyle Clements as a top notch flautist and color guard captain. He wrote, “She has helped a line of ladies accomplish a high level of excellence and superiority at various competitions.”
Ashley’s willingness to help others was echoed by teacher Ben Renfroe: “Ashley is selfless in that she eagerly helps fellow students who may be struggling. She treats all of her teachers with the utmost respect; thus, she is highly respected by the entire faculty at Cherokee High School.”
A person meeting this self-assured and selfless scholar might find it difficult to believe the hardships she has already endured. When Ashley was born, her parents were young, unmarried, high school dropouts who were not prepared to raise a child. Ashley’s parents have been separated practically her whole life.
As an infant, Ashley was raised by a family married into her own. She lived with this family in Michigan until the age of eight. One day, her mother decided she could try and raise her, so she packed all of Ashley’s things and drove to Tennessee. Shortly after, Ashley found herself was being raised by yet another woman who was also taking care of her three younger sisters.
Ashley’s mother returned two years later hoping for another chance to raise her in Mississippi. That ended two years later. Ashley and her younger sisters were put into foster care until the extended family came to take them home. Ashley went to Alabama with her grandmother, and her younger sisters went back home to Tennessee.
While was still under the care of her grandmother, Ashley was moved to live with her great-grandmother, whom she calls “NeNe”. Nene was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease and needed help. Ashley has been Nene’s caregiver for the last four years. She is responsible for organizing and administering medications, the household chores, most of the outdoor chores and preparing some meals.
Ashley’s grandmother stays with Nene while Ashley is at school. After school, Ashley goes straight home to resume her caretaking duties. She rarely has time to go out with friends or participate in after-school activities. The one exception to this general rule is band.
Despite these adversities, Ashley has persevered and excelled. Her nominator, Counselor Julia Gray, wrote, “She has a strong moral character and is a natural leader. She has organized and been responsible for several projects that have helped others in need. She has plans to attend college and pursue a career in business and marketing.”