Indiana State University Newsroom

Freshman 21st Century Scholar recognized for community service

April 25, 2014

When Ashley Richardson came to Indiana State University, she immediately knew she wanted to get involved.

In just her first year on campus, she has already participated in service-learning trips to Indianapolis and Gary, Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, Spring Donaghy Day and bi-monthly Stop & Serve events - all sponsored by the university's Center for Community Engagement.

"I didn't have any requirements for any classes, I just wanted to get involved," said the freshman from Gary.

Community service is not something that is new to Richardson. Her high school, Thea Bowman Leadership Academy, requires 40 hours of community service prior to graduation.

As a high school student, she spent two summers supervising children at the Gary Boys and Girls Club. She said that as a former club participant, she wanted to give the same attention to the children as supervisors had given her when she was younger.

"I like working with the little kids," Richardson said. "It reminded me of how when I was a kid and having someone to talk to and look up to."

Richardson's favorite service project came when she was 16 and spent the summer at Indiana Dunes National Lake Shore cleaning up a cabin that was used for children's programs the following summer. She also spent time educating the public about preservation of the park's grounds.

"We have before and after pictures and it was literally like a different cabin after we cleaned up the outside of it," she said.

Richardson is pursuing a double major in information technology and automation and control with a minor in advanced manufacturing management. She is also involved in Females in Technology (FIT) and Sisters Too, a club that empowers female African Americans.

Richardson said she thinks it is important to be involved in such clubs, especially as a female in the male-dominated field of technology.

"The empower us to be more and take control and not let our male counterparts steal the spotlight from us," she said. "Don't let anyone talk down to you because you are a woman."

Richardson was recently recognized with a Blue Leaf Award from the Center for Student Success for outstanding dedication to community service by a 21st Century Scholar.

Jack Shroeder, coordinator of the 21st Century Scholar Corps, said that it is important to honor students such as Richardson who not only have high academic achievement but also volunteer their time. He said that her dedication to community service demonstrates her good work ethic.

"She has a real sense of responsibility to give back," he said. "It says a lot when someone comes in who is 19-years old and all of a sudden is volunteering for this, that and the other thing."

As an Indiana State student, Richardson traveled back to her hometown for a service learning project at the Sojourner Truth House, a shelter for women and children.

"It was really nice to give back to my hometown," she said.

She also went to Indianapolis to help clean up areas near downtown.

"I just like helping people and seeing the expression on their face," Richardson said. "It's a good feeling."

Shroeder said it is students such as Richardson who have made Indiana State the No. 1 school for community service in the nation.

"Not only do we have great leadership for community service but we are recruiting students who think it is important too," he said. "[Indiana State] just puts the word out and these kids who show up in big numbers to these events. That says a lot."

Richardson encourages others to get involved in community service projects, saying that even the smallest contributions help.

"I look at it like every little bit counts, even if you can just volunteer one weekend, you can always help do something," she said.

Photo: - Ashley Richardson, an Indiana State University freshman from Gary, poses with her Blue Leaf Award during the Center for Student Success Awards Ceremony Feb. 19, 2014. She is flanked by Joshua Powers (left), associate vice president for student success, and Jack Schroeder, 21st Century Scholars Corps coordinator. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Writer: Emily Sturgess, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or