This year’s class of Ashbrook Scholars didn’t finish their senior year as they had anticipated. Their classes were moved online in March. Nonetheless, they graduated prepared to move into the world as principled leaders for America’s future.
Jacob Nestle, a senior from Murfreesboro, Tennessee said, “More than anything, Ashbrook has made me who I am.” Jacob won the George Washington Award for Statesmanship this year. The award declares that it honors a graduating senior who exemplifies the kind of qualities of leadership called for by Washington such as “prudence, conciliation, and firmness.” Reflecting on the award, Jacob said that when he first came to Ashbrook, he was “definitely firm—probably too firm. But I had no prudence or conciliation in me.” Four years later, according to Jacob, “two-thirds of those virtues which I was blessed to be told I have are thanks to my time at Ashbrook.”
Character formation is a key element of an Ashbrook Scholar education because to remain free, Americans must have the habits of free people. As John Adams put it, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” During his time as a student, Jacob’s character was not only formed in the classroom but also in his leadership roles as a Student Senate representative and as the chapter President for Young Americans for Liberty.
Sabrina Maristela, from Greenwood, Indiana, won the James Madison Award, which is given to a senior Ashbrook Scholar most embodying excellence in scholarship and study. Sabrina originally transferred to Ashland for her sophomore year and was grateful to have the opportunity to learn alongside other serious-minded students in the Ashbrook Scholar Program. “The Ashbrook Program gave me the opportunity to engage in real, true scholarship for the past three years, which itself has been an incredible reward, so to be recognized for that work is just icing on the cake.” She took her studies seriously because she recognized the important end to which they were directed, “the purpose of an Ashbrook education is to bring every student to a true love of America.”
Ashbrook does not accomplish this goal through the mere dissemination of information and certainly not through indoctrination. Rather, the Ashbrook way of teaching and learning is through conversation. We think of education as discovery—discovering the truth for yourself by having conversations—conversations with the great minds of the past and with your fellow citizens. Sabrina is proud to say that her experience with this kind of education “has been the primary instrument in helping me shape myself into who I am today.” At the end of the day, she says, “I am better because of the people I’ve come to know in-person and through the texts and because of the conversations I’ve had with all of them together.“
Now, Sabrina will help other students discover the beauty of America for themselves. This fall, she will begin teaching Medieval History and the American Tradition to high school students at Great Hearts Cicero Preparatory Academy in Scottsdale, Arizona. She’s excited to share what she has learned and hopes to continue her own education in a few years, pursuing a doctorate in Political Philosophy.
Friends across the country support Ashbrook because they understand that America needs devoted, thoughtful citizens like Jacob and Sabrina who are well prepared for principled leadership. Thank you for your support.