The student body at Troy University has elected a new Student Government Association president.
Ashli Morris, a junior international politics major and leadership development and military science double minor from Athens, Alabama, took on leadership roles early and often in her high school career.
She was the captain of the JV basketball team her freshman year, captain of the track squad during her senior season, freshman class president, a member of the Student Council Association and part of various other clubs and service organizations.
Despite her many roles and activities, Morris said she was quiet, reserved and bullied in high school, and had to push herself into accepting these positions.
“I was really good at things,” she said, “some I was naturally good at and some things I really had to work to be good at. At some point it just kind of shifted to where I was just over being the girl in the corner. I tried to make new friends and really push and get myself out there. When teachers would tell me they saw things in me that would make me a good leader and really encourage me to step into leadership roles, that transition really took place.”
Also during her freshman year, she made the decision to join the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), a program designed to teach cadets good citizenship, management skills and how to be a member of a team, and eventually moved up to the battalion commander for her unit her senior year.
“I started JROTC out of reverse psychology tactics for my parents, and I fell in love with it,” she said. “ROTC has really shaped me into a person I didn’t expect myself to be. Being able to be in a leadership role or do something that would help other students, like tutoring in JROTC, really pushed me into leadership roles.”
Morris applied for and was awarded an ROTC scholarship to TROY and said she decided not to be as overwhelmingly involved in organizations here as she was in high school, but that soon changed.
After making her debut in Freshman Forum, she served as Freshman Forum Director alongside Meredith Durden, joined Miss Elite Society, a community service and personal development organization, became a Trojan Ambassador, served on the homecoming committee last year and helped with countless other service projects.
“I’ve had my hand in a lot of things,” she said. “I think Freshman Forum really played a huge role in the things I was involved in. That leadership role really helped me to stretch and grow as well. That, coupled with ROTC, are two things that I definitely credit my desire to serve and my leadership abilities to.”
Morris said her main goal as SGA President is to build a relationship with students and make sure they understand the role that SGA plays in student life and their experience at TROY.
“Our effectiveness as an organization is limited by how much input we have,” she said. “If it’s only the 50 of us in that room, the 50 senators and the executive board, and say that the senators only talk to three or four people, or maybe even one or two, about what’s going on in SGA, then our vision and our idea of what our stance on something should be is very limited.”
In addition to encouraging the students to attend SGA meetings, she also plans to implement a newsletter that will be sent out each month to let the students know what’s going on.
“Hopefully that will encourage more students to know what SGA’s doing and if there’s something coming up that they’re interested in, maybe they’ll come to the meetings and give their input as well,” she said.
Morris will commission as a second lieutenant in the Army after she graduates but said she never expected a career in the military.
“I never thought I wanted to go into the military,” she said. “For a couple of years, I still didn’t really think I was going to make it a career. I will say that I came into college super stressed thinking I had to have a plan and know exactly what I was going to do with my life, and now I just think, ‘Lord lead me.’ Wherever the Army sends me is where I’ll go.”
Once her responsibilities are over for the day, she enjoys listening to pop and country music and picking a book off of her growing list to settle in with. Currently, her favorite book is “We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
“It’s a quick read, but it’s so good and insightful about feminism from a woman’s point of view who’s not American, and that’s something that’s really cool to me,” she said.
Morris also has a close relationship with her 9-year-old sister, Kennedi.
“She’s the most precious thing ever,” she said. “She’s so sassy. Being so far away from home is tough for both of us, but she’s awesome. She is smart, sharp and athletic. Of course I want to be a good role model for her, but looking at her now she is going to far surpass me in all of her efforts, and that is so exciting to me.”
The inauguration for the newly elected SGA officials will take place on April 18, and she wants to encourage students to be in contact either by the SGA email, firstname.lastname@example.org, attending meetings or coming into the office in the Trojan Center.
“Anytime one of us is there, we are willing to put aside what we are working on, unless it’s timely or urgent, to sit down with a student and listen to whatever they bring to us,” she said.
The SGA meets on Tuesday nights at 6:30 p.m. in Hawkins Hall.