- School as Sanctuary; Teachers as Mentors
- How One Individual Can Change The Life of Another
- Turning pain into power and productivity
- Overcoming adversity
Ashley Rhodes-Courter: An inspiring true story of the tumultuous nine years Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent in the foster care system, and how she triumphed over painful memories and real-life horrors to ultimately find her own voice.
Most of her placements were abusive and overcrowded. In one home, 16 people lived in a trailer and the children were regularly beaten, neglected, verbally assaulted, and food was withheld. Another foster parent became a convicted pedophile. She was also placed with an alcoholic relative that was shot twice in front of her.
Ashley Rhodes-Courter is the quintessential American success story. Born in 1985 to a single teen mother, by the age of 3 she was in Florida’s foster care system where she spent almost ten years being shuttled between 14 homes—some quite abusive—before being adopted from a Children’s Home at the age of twelve.
Despite her ordeal, she excelled in school because she believed that, “my education was the one thing nobody could take from me.” Early in her life she felt compelled to advocate for herself and the other children she lived with, particularly in the abusive foster homes.
Her efforts and academic achievements landed her Eckerd College’s Trustee Scholarship—the school’s most prestigious full-tuition award. She graduated with honors and ahead of schedule earning a double major in Communications and Theater and a double minor in Political Science and Psychology. Ashley then went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Social Work.
During her undergraduate studies, she was one of 20 college students selected for the USA Today All-USA Academic Team and was named one of GLAMOUR Magazine’s Top Ten College Women.
She was also selected as one of the four Golden BR!CK Award winners for outstanding advocacy for community change by Do Something.
As part of their campaign, she was featured on 25 million bags of Cool Ranch Doritos.
She was the Youth Advocate of the Year for the North American Council on Adoptable Children, has received the Kids to Kids National Service
Award from the Child Welfare League of America, and was the recipient of two Angels in Adoption Awards from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption.
• New York Times Magazine publishes Three Little Words Essay
• Youth Advocate of the Year, North American Council on Adoptable Children
• Kids to Kids National Service Award, Child Welfare League of America
• Eckerd College Trustee Scholarship
• USA Today All-USA Academic Team
• Awarded 1 of 4 Golden Brick Awards for Advocacy by DoSomething
• Top Ten College Women by Glamour Magazine
• Graduated with Honors, Eckerd College
• Three Little Words memoir becomes New York Times Bestseller
• Ambassador, Levi’s Shape What’s To Come Campaign
• Masters of Social Work, University of Southern California
• International Woman of the Year, St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce
• Named Community Hero from Tampa Bay Lightning NHL team
• Ran for Florida State Senate at age 26