As an Ashbrook Scholar, Adam Carrington learned to love America because it frees citizens to develop their best potentials. Carrington developed his own gifts in Ashbrook’s challenging undergraduate program—and discovered his life’s vocation: teaching. Having completed his doctorate in American political thought at Baylor University, Carrington will join the faculty of Hillsdale College this fall.
“I did not know what a liberal arts education was when I entered the Ashbrook Scholar program. I learned that it is to study what is noble, just, and beautiful. I also learned to love America—not just because it is my own, but because it is good.” A native of Wheelersburg, Ohio, Carrington interviewed for the Ashbrook Scholar program after reading about the prominent speakers who visit it. Professor Peter Schramm told him that as an Ashbrook Scholar “I would have conversations with great thinkers and wrestle with great ideas, and that by the way, I was a barbarian, so I should sit down right away and read Pride and Prejudice.” He enrolled. “Looking back, knowing now what a great education is, I would enroll again,” he said.
The Ashbrook program helped Carrington find political internships, the first during the summer of 2004, after his freshman year, with the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio. Staffers there recognized his abilities and invited him to work full-time on the campaign in the fall. Carrington took a semester off, working 90-hour weeks as the campaign’s liaison with Ohio event hosts for presidential and vice-presidential visits. Then he resumed his studies.
Carrington discovered his calling as a teacher during an evening seminar on Abraham Lincoln. He opened a three minute oral presentation by saying: “Lincoln believed that in order to save the Union, Americans had to articulate why it was worth saving—but also take the actions that would make it worth saving.” Dr. Schramm interjected: “Say that again—and explain it.” As Schramm drew Carrington out, other students offered suggestions. “Before I knew it, an hour and a half had passed. I realized that I had learned from what my fellow students said, and they had learned from a discussion I had moderated.”
Carrington arrived at Baylor having spent more time on American political thought than students from other colleges, who had focused on the major classical and European theorists. “Few schools take American political thought and the American political context as seriously” as the Ashbrook program does, he said.
At Hillsdale, Carrington will teach American political thought and political institutions along with other courses. “As at Ashland, there is a lot teaching outside of one’s specialty area, which helps keep professors connected to each other and to a broader range of students.”
He is committed to scholarship that “respects disagreeing views” and works hard to show the intellectual integrity of Constitutional ideas. Having chosen to teach, he points out that “Elections are often the result, not the starting point, of change. You have to win them—but the way to win them is by engaging citizens in what it means to be free, thoughtful, and just. If we do that, the change that follows will be broader, deeper, and more securing for our country.”