Prologue: The Midland Believes Scholarship is designed to provide first-generation college-going students with financial support to assist with the cost of postsecondary education. Offering a renewable $2,000 scholarship to students who fit the Midland Believes Scholarship criteria broadly covers the cost of postsecondary education at a community college. Some students, like Ashton, apply the scholarship to four-year institutions. Donors can support Midland Believes by giving any amount directly to the fund or starting a named endowment fund for $10,000.
Ashton Brooks – In Her Own Words, Documented by Kevin LaDuke
“I’m happy to have grown up in Midland. I attended Siebert Elementary School, Jefferson Middle School, and Dow High School. I completed almost three years of undergrad at Northwood University before transferring to Limestone University in Gaffney, South Carolina. There, I obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree.
I was a kicker for Dow High’s football team in high school. When my football story began being told, I realized how much Midland supported me. The community was behind me. When I was named a recipient of the Midland Believes Scholarship, I thought it was amazing how much strangers [to me] believed in investing in their community’s young people. The Midland Believes Scholarship is a huge part of my journey and instills hope in me for my hometown.
I’ve traveled a bit, moving to different states, and I’ve noticed that Midland has one of the best educational systems I have seen. They do so much to prepare students and get them ready for postsecondary. Now that I live in Charlotte, I realize many people didn’t have as many opportunities as I had growing up – the ones Midland provided for me. I didn’t recognize it until I left. I hope the community continues to reach out to students and help give students [like me] an opportunity to obtain a degree and accomplish their goals.
At Dow High School, I was involved in many extracurricular activities. I played volleyball, basketball, soccer, football, and had a stint with the pom team, as well. I also participated in mock trials and was involved in DECA, where I competed in the state tournament.
I flourished in soccer and was awarded scholarships to play at the college level. I’m fortunate soccer is still a part of my life. Over the summer, I played for FC Carolinas in Waxhaw, North Carolina. This offseason, I’m training to try and play professionally with a new club forming in my area. It’s an exciting opportunity. I love my career and ‘adulting’ so far, but you know, if I get the chance to continue to play soccer and get paid to do it, why would I say no? It’s had such a positive impact on me.
Beyond soccer, I’m a contract coordinator for Live Nation Entertainment. I read, analyze, and explore contracts distributed for concerts and festivals. When I first moved to the Carolinas, I was involved with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and was trying to work my way into the NFL and MLS, but I really enjoy the entertainment side, too.
For Midland, I hope the population grows and there are voices championing diversity while still supporting the community’s students. Between the scholarships, grants, and soccer opportunities I received in Midland, I was able to go to college. I’ve had so many great experiences. I’ve traveled to different states. I even went and played soccer in Peru for 12 days.
I feel inspired to do good things for others and be involved as much as possible. I attribute that to Midland. One of the goals on my list is to start hosting kicking camps for girls to learn how to kick a football. That’s been a goal since I was in high school playing football with the boys. I want to travel to different cities and teach girls that they can play, too. They, too, can play with the boys and break barriers.”