[Photo Gallery] Belltower Glowed Red for NC State Education’s First Truman Scholar

Ashley Lawson and NC State Education Dean Mary Ann Danowitz in front of the Belltower as it turned red

NC State University lit the Belltower red on Sept. 28, 2018, to honor NC State College of Education senior Ashley Lawson for becoming the university’s 10th Truman Scholar.

It’s believed to be the first time the Belltower was lit red to celebrate an individual affiliated with the NC State College of Education for a prestigious international honor like this. The college marked the occasion with a sunset celebration by the Belltower with faculty and staff, Lawson and her family and friends in attendance.

“I’ve been reflecting on just how far I’ve come since I came to NC State,” Lawson said. “My plan was to stay under the radar and to hide. I introduced myself as ‘Ashley from the middle of nowhere.’ “Looking back now, there are so many moments when my mentors, professors, friends and family saw my potential when I couldn’t and encouraged me to reach it. Thank you for pushing me to be my best self.

“Now, when I introduce myself, I say, ‘I’m Ashley and I change lives.’”

Now, when I introduce myself, I say, ‘I’m Ashley and I change lives.


When she first arrived at NC State, Lawson planned to design roller coasters.But that changed when she received a call from a friend from her hometown of Prestonville, North Carolina, requesting help on college applications. The trip back home, she said, acted as a lightbulb moment and sent her down a path to empower people through education.

“Celebrating Ashley tonight is celebrating the community around her — her parents, faculty, friends and advocates,” NC State College of Education Dean Mary Ann Danowitz said during her remarks at the celebration. “Ashley, you’ve achieved so much, but more importantly, you have inspired the people you have engaged with to be better versions of themselves.”

Photo of Ashley Lawson surrounded by her family members at the NC State Belltower
Ashley Lawson with her family at the NC State Belltower

Now as a senior in mathematics education and mathematics, Lawson is student teaching at Cleveland High School in Johnston County and is on track to graduate in December. She plans to use the Truman Scholarship to earn a Ph.D. in a joint program in public administration and development sociology after first teaching high school mathematics.

“I’ve never seen anyone mature and expand as much as Ashley has during her time at NC State and at the College of Education,” said Lawson’s father Nolan Lawson. “We appreciate everything the College of Education has done to help her become the person she is today.”