Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Alumni Spotlight: Ashley Hart

You never know where your path after Vol State could lead you. 36 year old Criminal Justice alumna Ashley Hart has gone a long way since graduating from Vol State in 2012. Now a licensed attorney and social worker in Indiana, Ashley continues to pave the way for her career, fueled by a passion for people and law.

“I have always been very interested in law. I grew up as a kid spending summers with my grandma and we would watch Matlock every morning, and so I just developed a strong love for criminal law and certainly defense work,” Ashley said. Years later, she began turning her interest into a career right here at Vol State.

“I went back to school a little bit later. My brother passed away when I was twenty, he committed suicide when he was eighteen years old, and I’m a suicide survivor, so school for me was postponed. I really needed to come back to school when I was ready ... During my time at Vol State, I just fell in love with it from my very first class ... If you would have asked me before I entered the program if I thought I would go to law school after surviving my brother’s death, I would’ve said no, because I really did feel too old."

Ashley said that there was a time when she believed her education would end with at an associate’s degree, but her Vol State professors were a constant source of support for her to continue her education.
“They really made me believe in myself and made me believe that I could really go on and go further than what I even thought that I was capable of. I just really feel like I got a good sense of encouragement and motivation and it just kept me going … It’s really important for me to convey how Vol State was incredibly supportive. I loved my time [at Vol State] and I think it set me up with such an incredible foundation to go forward. Everything that I've done since, I’ve used or drawn off of something that was taught to me at Vol State.”

Ashley went on to Tennessee State University’s 2+2 Criminal Justice program before making her way to Indiana University. Attracted by IU’s dual degree graduate programs, Ashley attained a Master of Social Work with a concentration in Mental Health and Addiction at IU and a Juris Doctor at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law, where she graduated in the top 6.9% of her class.

“I just thought that social work is such a great way to understand human behavior and the idea that everybody has story. I just wanted to be a better advocate. I really liked the idea of advocating for people who maybe feel like they don’t have a voice.”

Since July 2018, Ashley has been working as a federal judicial law clerk at the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. “It’s quite an honor and privilege to have any clerkship, whether it’s state or federal, but certainly federal court is very exciting,” she said. Her clerkship will end in June 2019 as she steps into a position at a litigation law firm in Indianapolis (Hoover Hull Turner LLP), where she’ll begin as an associate attorney this July. -By Rachel Keyes

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