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Student of the Month | May 2023 | Elizabeth Ashford

Elizabeth Ashford says the pandemic made her realize how much she admired her peers because of how they were able to “bounce back from a life-altering event.”  In addition to the pandemic, Elizabeth herself has gained strength by persevering through additional challenges with an autoimmune disorder, several chronic illnesses, and juggling her social life despite her medical issues. 


“Ironically, being disabled motivates me. Having an autoimmune disorder and chronic illnesses affects my everyday life and causes major setbacks. However, I don’t want my disability to define me, I want to be more than that. Having goals and objectives is what keeps me going,” said Elizabeth.


Her mother’s influence also inspires her to want to help others, she says.


“My mom has made a huge impact on my life. She is the strongest person I know. My mom’s job revolves around helping sick kids and their families and advocating for their care. She is my role model and the reason I want to also help others, because I can see the impact she has made,” said Elizabeth.


Elizabeth applied and was accepted into all of her chosen schools, and has selected James Madison University as her institution of higher learning. She’ll pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology, earn a doctorate, and become a psychologist so that she can work with childhood development and the justice system.


“Elizabeth has truly been a pleasure and has added value to the Southern SES family over the years.  She has been a leader amongst her peers and has provided an excellent student model for other students to see and emulate. Lizzy, as she loves to be called, has been a consistent student leader and advocate for all students' interests. She has achieved all of this while battling a chronic illness...and never complained!” said her principal Jerome Leathers.


She also enjoys hobbies like sewing, acting, making crafts, and doing community work.

“As principal, I will hate to see Elizabeth move on beyond high school, but I know society will be in a much better place as I am sure she will make an impact wherever she goes, ” said Leathers.

Her humility itself is impactful, as she is appreciative of the opportunity to give life her best shot.

“Honestly, I can’t name just one accomplishment that stands out the most. It would either have to be maintaining a 4.25 GPA or scoring the highest ACT score out of the whole school. Getting selected to be student of the month is definitely up there too.”