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Ashley wants to help kids who aren’t as fortunate as she is to have a good support system because oftentimes, all that kids need in order to flourish could be a person who’s got their back. Ashley wants to be that person for the kids in her community and help them reach their own potentials. This is Ashley’s goal as a scholar in the Monster Education Foundation.

“I want to help people who are not as fortunate as I am. I grew up in a great family, but not everybody has that same support system. I want to be there as someone who cares and shows them that they always have a shoulder to lean on,” Ashley said. “If you’re down, you can always get back up and fight.”

Thanks to her family’s support, Ashley has been flourishing in many different areas. She was co- captain of her high school volleyball team, is planning on joining a dance team, and maintains all A’s in her classes, loving math the most.

She has been involved in lots of activities and leadership experiences since at least 6th grade. She was on the Honor Roll and chosen as a leader in her class to welcome new students. This led to Ashley’s 6th grade science teacher nominating her for Monster Education.

Although Ashley had always been motivated and aware of the conflicts in her community, Monster Education was a major driving force that let her find new opportunities and take action on her motivations—and it helped her “go to places where you wouldn’t normally go and be more than who you normally are,” said Ashley.

When Ashley took note that in her neighborhood during summertime, there is a lot more violence on the streets because kids are out roaming the streets instead of in school—Ashley addressed this issue in her Monster nomination essay and in her first community service project. Her solution was to identify and promote safe havens, spots in the community where kids could stay for free with no strings attached. In a safe haven, a refuge from any threats or conflicts, kids can play sports, get a meal, get tutored, or do homework.

Jenny Chang, co-founder of Monster Education said Ashley’s “total inner drive” fueled her idea. “She came up with that idea entirely on her own and acted on it,” she said. “She’s just one shiny example of kids who really impress you.”

As Monster Education has had Ashley’s back, encouraging her and giving her support and opportunities to work towards her goal and other aspirations, she has run with those opportunities. When Monster offered workshop sessions for study skills, Ashley eagerly attended all three sessions and applied what she learned in the workshops to improve her worst grade, a C in Biology, to an A.

Monster leadership conferences and study skills workshops have also helped Ashley grow as a leader. “Monster helped me come out of my shell. I was always a leader but not as vocal about it; I might have seen needs but not have done something about them,” said Ashley. “It helped me bring out the inner me and learn that you don’t have to wait for someone else to make change. You can bring on the changes yourself.”

People around Ashley saw this positive change in her as well—Mrs. Dorsey, Ashley’s mother, being one of them. “There were times when Ashley found food pantries to volunteer at, went to community centers to help out, or stayed after school to help her peers with their work,” said Mrs. Dorsey. “She started being more active in the community without being told to do so.”

Story contributed by Lucy (Minseo) Cho, sophomore at Glenbrook North High School

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