The Civic Scholar
Ashley Barton, RWU Class of 2015Creative WritingAlumni
Passionate and dedicated efforts toward social equity and justice have gained significant momentum across campus over the past few years. A strong embodiment of this work is alumna Ashley Barton.
For her advocacy work to free imprisoned scholars around the world, Barton was honored as a 2015 Newman Civic Fellow, a prestigious award recognizing a select group of student leaders who create lasting change in communities throughout the country and around the globe.
Barton was among 201 students across the nation – and the first from Roger Williams University – to receive the honor. RWU just had a second student honored as a fellow in 2017. Legal studies and creative writing double major, she was recognized for her involvement in a project-based learning partnership between Roger Williams University and Scholars at Risk, the nonprofit organization that promotes academic freedom via advocacy to governments and the general public for scholars and intellectuals around the world who have been jailed for expressing their beliefs.
Under the leadership of Associate Professor of Creative Writing Adam Braver, Barton and a small group of students involved in Roger Williams University and Scholars at Risk served as case-minders for three detained scholars in Turkey, Ethiopia and China. Barton drafted letters to senators, engaged in discussions with high-level officials in the state and federal government, as well as the NGO community, presented updates to the national SAR office and the campus community, and worked on associated social justice initiatives at the local and national level. Her involvement with RWU SAR quickly transitioned from learning experience to a life mission.
“Had I gone to a different school, I don’t think I would have been able to seek these avenues and pursue human rights activism the way I have been able to at RWU.”
Her work in social justice at RWU inspired her to pursue a law degree after graduation. Currently, Barton attends Wake Forest University School of Law.