One of Carey Ash’s first acts as president of the Student Government Association at Southern University at Baton Rouge was to make sure students who couldn’t afford textbooks had access to them anyway. That meant giving up his own scholarship money to purchase the books.
When he took office last April, Ash launched the Ivory M. Berry Textbook Assistance Program, which began loaning textbooks this fall to students who couldn’t afford them.
Ash gave up his $4,000 presidential scholarship award to purchase textbooks that students can borrow for up to two weeks through the university’s library.
“I felt I could best serve my student body by equipping them with the tools they need to learn, and that is a textbook,” says Ash. “The high cost of textbooks would no longer be an obstacle to someone pursuing an education.”
Ash, a senior, named the program after his mentor, Ivory M. Berry, a 2007 Southern University graduate who was highly engaged in campus life and the SGA. Berry also served as Ash’s campaign advisor and had inspired him to be a selfless leader.
Ash’s path to being a leader did not occur overnight. Berry recalls the transformation that he says he is proud of.
“It was challenging, at first, and took months of talking, literally three hours a day [about leadership and putting others first], but Carey has always been a people person and a good listener.”
Though Berry is Ash’s senior by only one year, he served as a big brother to Ash and they have remained close.
Ash also wears many other hats. He is the chairman of the Louisiana Student Body Presidents and the state president of the Louisiana Collegiate Honors Council.
Ash helped organize a trip of more than 200 students from the university to Jena, La., to protest the series of racial injustices against six Louisiana Black high school students known as the “Jena Six.”
Ash heads all of these positions and fully participates in campus life, while maintaining a 3.8 GPA.
“Even though I am committed to leadership, as a student leader [I realize] what comes before leader is student,” Ash says. “I understand my role and being a great student is my primary focus. Every little break I get, I review my textbooks. Wherever I go, travel, I bring my school books.”
His source of motivation, he says, also comes from his mother and grandmother.
“They kept me on a straight and narrow path, encouraged me to do well in school and maintain a belief in God,” Ash says. “It is through their hard work, through them that I am able to achieve what I have so far, and it’s because of them that I am able to do even more.”
The 21-year-old will graduate in the spring with bachelor’s degrees in political science and history.
He is currently applying to law school and hopes to pursue a career in politics or law.
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