Graduating Senior Spotlight: Q&A with Ash Smith

Ash Smith in a white hoodie, standing in a building hallway

Hometown: Inver Grove Heights, MN

Major(s) and Minor(s): Sociology of Law, Criminology & Justice B.S.

Activities you are involved in: YDSA, local politics

What brought you to the University of Minnesota and how did you end up choosing your major(s) and minor(s)?

My kindergarten teacher was a Gopher, so since I was little, I’ve been singing the rouser and learning about the U. As a MN high school student, it’s almost tradition to put in an application to go to Minneapolis, or Duluth, or whichever campus you wanted to attend. I first came into the U as an electrical engineering major, since my dad is an engineer, but I am much better at reading/analyzing than math and I have always been passionate about helping people and learning about the criminal legal system and its effects on society and people. Learning how the system I work and participate in affects people helps me in my career to be a better paralegal/legal assistant and provide support in a more empathetic and understanding way.

Which CLA class or professor has had the biggest impact on you? Why?

Joshua Page. I took two classes with him my sophomore year and he truly is the best. Was always super supportive of his students and pushed us to think outside of our comfort zones to explore the criminal legal system and why things work the way they did, and how to find solutions. Truly amazing dude.

What course would you recommend for other students in your major? And for students outside of your major, what course would be a good introduction to what you study?

That’s a great question! I would say for SOC LCJ majors, take SOC 3101 (Sociological Perspectives on the Criminal Justice System). For non-SOC LCJ majors, I would say take SOC 1101 (Law, Crime and Punishment) as it’s a good introduction to the SOC LCJ curriculum.

Tell us about a class you still think a lot about.

I still think about SOC 3101 a lot. That class (which I took with Prof. Page) really opened my eyes to some of the lesser-known parts of the criminal legal system.

What has been your favorite part of your experience with your department(s) and within your major(s) and minor(s)?

Everything honestly! SOC LCJ is a pretty small major compared to some of CLA’s other majors but it’s super fun to get to know everyone and collaborate in class :)

What is one aspect of your major or minor that has surprised you? What do you wish more people understood about what you study?

I wish more people understood that what we study isn’t made up or that it doesn’t matter “in the real world.” Sociology is an important part of understanding our world and becoming better at understanding and adapting to others, especially in the legal field where underrepresented groups are ignored and cast aside fairly often.

What are some ways you have found community within your major/minor department(s)?

Making sure to connect on social media to stay connected and make study groups/share notes.

What is your dream job? How is your liberal arts education helping you reach your post-graduation goals?

Paralegal! I am currently employed as an OA at Schwebel, Goetz, and Sieben PA because of my education and the experience I have gotten at the U. :)

Which of the core career competencies do you think will help you the most in your future career?

Writing and analyzing for sure.

If you had the world's attention for 30 seconds, what would you say?

Listen to the marginalized and oppressed. Create more low-income public housing so we can get our houseless friends off the streets. End mass incarceration.

If you could be any member on a TV show, who would you be?

I would be Brennan Lee Mulligan from Dimension 20/Dropout shows because I want to know what it’s like to have that many stories in your head

Is there an app you hate but use anyways?


What's next for you? What are your post-graduation plans?

Working at Schwebel, Goetz, and Sieben and working towards a paralegal studies certificate.

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