Ashley Lawson ’18: Our First Truman Scholar

Ashley Lawson ’18 did not plan to become a teacher when she first came to NC State, but an “aha” moment with the university’s Park Scholars set her on a path to become a math teacher and our first Truman Scholar.

Photo of NC State Education graduate and Truman Scholar Ashley Lawson with Mr. and Ms. Wuf Name: Ashley Lawson

Hometown: Prestonville, N.C.

Field of Study: Mathematics Education and Mathematics

Activities: Truman Scholar, Valedictorian, Park Scholar, Passport to Success, North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics

What’s Next: After graduation, I will be teaching Math 1 and Math 2 at Davie County High School in Mocksville, North Carolina.

I chose education because. . .I love helping others. At the freshman retreat with the Park Scholarship, I was asked to reflect on what I believed to be my purpose. I believe that my purpose is to help others realize and reach their full potential and teaching is how I can live that out. I love helping my students learn and I live for those lightbulb moments. There is nothing better than helping a student build confidence in their abilities and believe that they are capable. Teaching is my calling and I am so happy that I found it.

The NC State College of Education prepared me to. . . feel confident that I can support my students in learning this content and building the skills to collaborate, persevere and problem solve in reaching their goals. NC State taught me how to reflect on my teaching, how to search out the best resources for my students, and helped me build a network of math educators that can support me in teaching my students. NC State also empowered me so that I could make change within a school. I was able to lead within my Professional Learning Community while student teaching because of how well NC State prepared me. I will continue to lead and advocate for my students in Davie County.

One of the most influential professors for me was. . .Dr. Cyndi Edgington. She was my Park Faculty Mentor, the advisor for NCCTM, and my advisor, but none of those titles actually explain her impact. I was able to call her when I was frustrated with the systematic barriers for my students and when I was struggling personally. I’ve called her crying and cried in her office when I was overwhelmed with school, personal issues, and everything going on. Every time she was there for me and was able to direct me to whatever I needed. She is constantly helping me improve as an educator and helping me search for answers to massive educational issues.

When the university lit the Belltower red for me. . .it was incredible. I was shocked that so many people came to the Belltower lighting. It was incredibly humbling. I was so grateful that I could thank those who helped me along the way. I never expected something like this when I came to NC State, so it was a little overwhelming. I have so many great memories from that night and I’m still in shock that I received the Truman Scholarship. I am so thankful that NC State has supported me in reaching my dreams and that the many professors along the way encouraged me to push past what I thought I could do.

My advice for anyone interested in education is. . .to jump in. We have an incredible need for people who care about students and are dedicated to high-quality teaching. This is the most fulfilling and trying career you can enter. Every day you are pushed to be your best because your students need you. It is tough to constantly improve, but those moments when your students struggle and then finally understand it are the most fulfilling. Beyond that, getting to know your students and helping them achieve more than they ever believed they could is worth every stressful day, every hour lesson planning, and every lunch I spend with students in my classroom. You cannot choose a better career if you want to help others.