The Spring Creek Towers (SCT) Scholarship Program has helped hundreds of high school students since its inception in 1986. The program has been dedicated in highlighting students who are talented, intelligent and community-oriented, and in doing so, it has awarded over $1.2 million to these stellar individuals throughout the past 31 years to help ease the financial burden of college.
Lake Forest College student, Ashley Lamarre was one of these select students whose hard work and steadfast determination earned her an annual $2,000 award towards college in 2014. Her personal essay was so profound that the Spring Creek Sun published it in our November 21, 2014 issue, entitled “Tragic Memory Source of Personal Strength to Persevere.” In her essay, she proclaims that she will persevere. She will overcome obstacles and not let anything diminish her spirit because she is the author to her own story, and only she can say when her tale will end.
Nearly four years after receiving an SCT Scholarship Program Award, Lamarre continues to do just that. She is currently working hard on earning a Bachelor’s Degree in African American Studies and Philosophy and is expected to graduate May 2018. Her academic career has also lead to her experience as a peer teacher and a host of scholarly presentations and awards (Disque Dean Scholarship, Lake Forest College Dean’s List, Foster G. McGaw Scholarship, Christopher Mojewku Award, Social Justice Award, and Graduate School Exploration Fellowship). Lamarre has become a well-rounded, educated woman who has applied her education in developing research and spreading awareness about racial, gender and socioeconomic issues going on today. She has given presentations on shifting gender stereotypes, the plight of being a black woman, and other pertinent problems in society.
In light of Lamarre’s academic success and studious background, the Spring Creek Sun conducted an interview to find out her future goals and plans.
Spring Creek Sun (SCS): How did receiving a Spring Creek Towers’ scholarship benefit your education? Did you use it towards your tuition, school supplies, etc.?
Ashley Lamarre (AL): The Disque Dean scholarship Spring Creek Towers’ provided covered my tuition for the entirety of my undergraduate career which was a huge help on its own. It also helped in an unexpected way by allowing me to attend an institution entirely out of my comfort zone which made me try a variety of new things and has made me a more flexible person in terms of different environments. In addition, I received the academic scholarship from Spring Creek Towers’ which I primarily used for dorm supplies, textbooks, storage, and most importantly, flights since going to school in Illinois was a bit of an unexpected expense since the majority of colleges I considered were local. It worked out that I only had to pay for room and board, which was a steal if you think about it because I only paid a very small fraction for a private liberal arts college experience. In addition to Spring Creek Towers’ scholarship, for my senior year I received another scholarship from Alumni from Lake Forest College that covered room and board for my final year. In all, I get to graduate from college only having paid for three years of room and board and with very minimal loans compared to my peers which is a great relief.
SCS: What have you learned during your time in college?
AL: During my time at Lake Forest College, I learned I’m capable of a lot more than I thought and am far more outgoing too. Though I did well in high school academically, I wasn’t very involved and I thought that’s just who I was, someone who just goes to classes and goes home. That all changed in college where my struggle changed from being inactive to struggling with when to say no to a vast amount of opportunities. I got to serve in a variety of committees ranging from fiscal to diversity issues on campus. I not only became a member of clubs like Students for Women’s Awareness, Latinos Unidos, and United Black Association but, I also became the Programming Chair of United Black Association in my Junior year so I could become the discussion leader and philanthropy coordinator. I was invited to and joined different academic societies such as Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Sigma Tau, and Senior 25, and I continued to be on the Dean’s List. I also got more in touch with my creative side where after a couple years working for the Theater Department, I was asked to direct an original play based off of interviews that I conducted of Black students on campus on what it was like to be Black and attending a predominantly white campus. These interviews were then made anonymous, and were given to a good friend of mine and a playwright, Ananias McGee, who then wrote a script based on the interviews. This show was performed for three nights and sold out every night and won several awards.
SCS: How have your goals changed since you attended college?
AL: My goals have changed pretty dramatically from high school. While attending Midwood High School I was in the medical science program and I aspired to be a Physical Therapist, but attending a Liberal Arts College and taking a wide variety of courses really broadened my interest, making me declare a double major in Philosophy and African-American Studies instead. So my career goals have changed from wanting to be a Physical Therapist to wanting to be a Professor because I’ve grown to really value how much a higher education can transform a person for the better.
SCS: What career are you pursing and why?
AL: I’m pursuing a career as a Professor. I was lucky enough to be a Peer Teacher, better known as a Teaching Assistant, for the entirety of my Junior year and I really loved it. I taught courses, held office hours, and really enjoyed helping students understand new concepts as well as helping struggling students improve their grades. This past summer working as a research assistant provided me with the research experience that also comes with working in academia, so I really feel prepared to take on this journey. I want to be able to be the great influence my Professors were to me to future generations hungry for knowledge and critical thinking.
AL: My sister was and still continues to be a huge influence in my life, she literally is my biggest fan and the person I have to call when I’m experiencing any kind of self-doubt. She was the first child to our Haitian immigrant parents and was able to accomplish so much for herself and our family. She always made a huge effort to support me in all of my endeavors and even when she moved away to Maryland when I was young she would still make the drive to New York anytime I really needed her. She always has and will always continue to be my rock and role model.
SCS: What piece of advice did your family or someone close to you give you that you have always heeded?
AL: My family has just always told me that they trust that I have a good head on my shoulders and say they never doubt my abilities or give them anything to worry about. Really, all I try to do is maintain that level of trust and just try to stay consistent and not let them down. That seed in my head just keeps me on the right track and helps me navigate my priorities.
SCS: Did you feel like college prepared you for your job?
AL: When I started my job this summer as a research assistant at the University of Maryland, College Park, my college definitely prepared me in terms of being used to a very literature heavy curriculum. That way when I was I was asked to have 2-3 books read every week, make submissions, and be prepared for discussions it wasn’t too daunting. Also my busy schedule at school really helped me learn how to budget my time, so I just created my own schedule to get my work done since it’s pretty much independent work. Plus even when things did get a bit overwhelming my advisor, Dr. Daw-Nay Evans, at my home campus at Lake Forest College continued to provide me with support and encouragement about my abilities to succeed. In my senior year my college will continue to support me in my application to graduate schools.
SCS: In five years, where do you see yourself or perhaps what are your future plans?
AL: In five years I’ll probably still be in graduate school. In the fall I plan on applying to a couple of graduate schools for a doctoral program and those can take anywhere from 6-8 years for the programs I’m applying to which range from African American Philosophy, African American Studies, and Gender and Women Studies. Though it’ll be a long journey I know it’ll get me closer and well pre-prepared for my dream career.
SCS: What are some of your hobbies?
AL: My hobbies aren’t anything too eccentric, just things a lot of people in my age group enjoy. I really love listening to music and going to concerts, I try to go to as many music festivals as I can (and can afford) whenever I’m not at school. I also love movies and series, primarily in the comedy or drama genre, so I’m either laughing hysterically or yelling at someone to not go into the woods alone. Also, even though I’m constantly reading at school it really is a different experience to be able to read books that you get to choose and one of my favorite authors is Toni Morrison.
SCS: Could you describe a memory or event that inspired you or stood with you growing up? Perhaps something like your first experience with responsibility or a lesson your parents taught you.
AL: One memory that stuck with me when growing up is my father telling me about his father. He would talk about how he loved his father and how his father loved him, but his father tried to make him go into a career path he wasn’t exactly interested with himself. He would always let me know that because of that experience, he wanted me to do whatever would either make me happy, or paid me well, but let me know that if I chose the thing that made me happy that it wouldn’t feel like work. This provided me the freedom to explore different career paths and rule out ones I definitely didn’t like, and my father continues to support me and only asks that I keep him updated on my wide and ever changing interest.
Photos courtesy of Ashley Lamarre