Class of 2020 member Ashley Lasiter

June 19th, 2020 | In Focus, News

Pointer View: When it comes to your Class of 2020 motto, “With Vision We Lead,” what do those words mean to you?
Ashley Lasiter: “I think ‘With Vision We Lead’ entails a sense of hope and optimism. Knowing my classmates, many of us aspire to create positive change and this drives how we will lead and serve others.”

PV: What does service and leadership mean to you as you start your career as an Army officer?
AL: “West Point has made me realize that being a leader of character relies on having a foundation of humility, selflessness and empathy. Being a leader of character involves transforming your vulnerabilities and weaknesses into strengths and reflecting on how you—personally, uniquely and genuinely—can support and motivate others. I am honored to be a part of a team with a history of serving others and changing the world.”

PV: What advice would you give to the underclassmen or to your younger self from four years ago with what you know now from your academy experience?
AL: “There comes a point when taking the extra time to ‘study’ forces you to sacrifice more meaningful connections and experiences. I have met so many incredible people through West Point, and I wish I had begun my cadet career dedicating more time to building these friendships earlier. If you are ever presented with a new opportunity to grow, even if you do not know much about it or it sounds scary, say yes. Do not be afraid to ask others for help along the way.”

PV: What is your favorite memory/top moments in your time at West Point?
AL: “One of my favorite memories at West Point is Branch Night. It was exciting to open my envelope, not just to find out my branch, but because it felt like my entire time at West Point was culminating into something even bigger. Everything my classmates and I had experienced up to that point rushed to my head, and it felt incredible to see everyone get excited for a future that felt much closer.
“Other top moments include Ring Weekend and other class weekends, studying abroad in Morocco and bonding with my company mates and CLDT platoon.”

PV: You branched military intelligence … why did you choose to serve in MI?
AL: “I have always been fascinated by what happens behind the scenes and how information drives decision making. Entering West Point initially, I imagined being a Military Intelligence officer would be like solving puzzles continuously—gathering information, filling in the gaps and identifying the meaning and significance.
“As my cadet career progressed, I met more Military Intelligence officers; I admire several officers I have met during my time at West Point, but I found myself drawn especially to MI officers and wanted to emulate them. They make decisions that have transcending, significant effects and I want to be a part of that decision-making process. ”

PV: How exciting was it to earn the Anna Sobol-Levy scholarship?
AL: “I was extremely excited when I found out I earned the Anna Sobol-Levy scholarship, and I am still extremely excited as I prepare for graduation and attending the program.
“It felt gratifying to find out I was accepted, and I am honored to have the unique opportunity to attend a graduate program after graduation and to study immersed in Israel.”

PV: Do you feel you achieved all your goals at West Point?
AL: “I arrived at West Point with different goals than many of the ones I finished with during my firstie year. Sometimes goals evolve and change. If anything, the current circumstances have made me wish I had spent more time with my company mates and friends while at West Point.”

PV: What is your best achievement at West Point?
AL: “One random evening of firstie year, I was chatting with another friend when an underclassman joined and chatted with us. Eventually, he brought up the Mounger Writing Center because he had to conduct research for a term paper in the Introduction to Pedagogy class— which is required for all writing fellows. When I told him I was a Senior Writing Fellow and started discussing my own term paper from semesters ago, he told me he already knew about it.
“Apparently, many of the sources I used for my research paper are now required reading for incoming cohorts of writing fellows. To see that my individual interests and efforts have inspired other cadets and have made a lasting impact on future classes is something I am proud to have accomplished.”

PV: Any one person you’d like to mention who helped your success/guided you the most at West Point?
AL: “Several people helped guide me throughout my time at West Point. I want to especially thank the Arabic instructors of the Department of Foreign Languages, the faculty of the Mounger Writing Center, the Graduate Scholarship Program and all of the English instructors I have had for pushing me beyond my comfort zone and teaching me to think creatively and empathetically.”

PV: Through this collective experience everyone has gone through, from your perspective, how has the Class of 2020 united together and motivated each other during the COVID-19 crisis?
AL: “I think this time apart has made many of us realize how grateful we are to have the friendships and experiences West Point has brought us. It has become even more important to check up on friends and classmates while learning in the remote environment. I know my company and several other companies have frequently gathered together to chat and stay connected during this time. This has been a unique experience, but it helps that we still have our friends and classmates to encourage one another.”

PV: What was the biggest hurdle you faced during the crisis? What did you find out about yourself and your resilience, whether it was physically or mentally, in overcoming this situation and drive toward graduation?
AL: “I think for many of us, since plebe year and perhaps even earlier than that, we have envisioned our firstie year and graduation to be a certain traditional way. Our graduation and firstie year experiences have obviously changed and are different and unique, which was initially upsetting to me. However, given the circumstances, it is understandable that we have to sacrifice these expectations and traditions.
“There are many people in our country and throughout the world sacrificing more than I am during this time. It was humbling to have a graduation ceremony at all and I was excited to reunite with my classmates as we prepared to graduate and commission as second lieutenants.”

PV: Describe what tossing your hat in the air meant to you, completing your journey at West Point?
AL: “When I was younger, I had only read about West Point and its graduates; I did not imagine myself becoming one of them … I did not get accepted into West Point the first time I had applied, and I was skeptical of what I could achieve if I tried applying again.
“Tossing my hat in the air and completing my journey at West Point serves as a reminder to never give up and always try again for what I believe in.”
PV: Talk about your experiences abroad teaching English to Moroccan students and volunteering at a refugee camp in Greece, how do these experiences guide you to having a bigger influence in the future in helping people?
AL: “The experiences I have had abroad, in Morocco and Greece particularly, have broadened my understanding of several contemporary issues. Reading an article or watching a video online from afar can make any issue seem distant or impersonal.
“Connecting to people who have been impacted by these issues makes the issues seem more urgent. It is so important to go beyond your comfort zone and to connect with others who have experiences different than your own.
“Any goal of helping people on a global scale should begin with helping individual people at a personal level.”