Ashton’s interest in masonry was sparked during her sophomore year of high school when she watched a competition. She was so intrigued that she decided to sign up for the next available competition she could find and the rest is HERstory! When she graduated high school, she wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do for a career. She knew that she loved masonry, but she didn’t know of any opportunities to pursue a career in it. She decided to go and talk with a masonry company and learned about the many things that were available for her do to in the industry and decided a degree in Construction Management was the path for her. She started her studies at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and then transferred to a 4-year university and in May 2022 she graduated from the University of North Carolina – Charlotte with a BS in Construction Management.
Ashton says that she has never really felt out of place in a job or the classroom because she is a woman. If anything, she says that she took it as a challenge to prove that she could be in the industry and prove that women can be successful in a male-dominated field. In high school there were times when she was the only girl in the masonry class and other times it was just her and maybe one other girl. When she got to college there were more females in some of her classes, but not many. There were plenty of times when she was the only one, but she really enjoyed it because she got along with all the guys and at that point, she was comfortable being the only woman in the room. She says that she always felt respected and that she learned to let her work speak for itself!
Ashton was the first female to win the SkillsUSA National Masonry Competition 2 years in a row! She says that the masonry industry and trades are a great career path no matter where you are in life. There are so many opportunities to do so many different things that you are bound to find something you enjoy. Her career has been so rewarding and has given her a sense of pride and accomplishment. She loves the design aspects of masonry and getting to make something her own. Ashton says that it is very creative and there are so many ways to make something unique; it truly is art!
Along the way Ashton has had a great support system. She credits her success and being where she is today to her instructor Rodney Harrington, Ryan Shaver at the North Carolina Masonry Contractors Association, her CTE Program in high school, SkillsUSA, SPEC MIX, Gates Construction and everyone who encouraged and supported her throughout the years.
If she could go back and giver her 18-year-old self some advice, Ashton says that advice would be to never turn down an opportunity because you never know where it might lead you. She would also tell her to pursue masonry and take it seriously because your hard work and determination will pay off in the end!