Scholarship Stories: Ashley S.

A few months before her senior year of high school, Ashley’s father passed away.

He had been everything to her: a sole source of emotional and financial support.

Without him, the future was unclear and life was overwhelming. Her relationship with her mother was shaky, and her boyfriend didn’t seem to have her best interests at heart. In addition to school, Ashley worked full time, all the while grieving the death of her father. She began to struggle with depression.

In January, Rebecca Suttles sent an e-blast letting Hamilton County students know that the Community Foundation’s scholarship season was open. Ashley’s school encouraged her to apply for a Together We Can scholarship, and a few months later, she was thrilled to learn that she was selected.

Rebecca first met Ashley at the orientation for scholarship recipients. As she does with so many students, Rebecca made an effort to get to know Ashley.

“I always tell the students, please let me know if there is anything I can do for you,” Rebecca says. “They don’t always reach out, but Ashley did. She made an appointment and shared everything that was going on in her life.”

Rebecca formed an close relationship with Ashley and stayed in constant touch when she enrolled at UTC the following fall. Her first semester was challenging, but Rebecca continues to work with Ashley to improve her academic performance, her mental health and her personal relationships.

“Ashley is living with her mother again, and I’ve encouraged her to get counseling,” Rebecca says. “She now has the support she needs to move forward and focus on her degree. If she hadn’t received the Together We Can scholarship, she would be in a very different place.”