Morgan Ashmore L'23 plans to use her experiences to promote the acceptance of people with different backgrounds as legal professionals.
Morgan Ashmore L’23 has wrapped up her first year at Elon Law, but her journey to change the landscape and culture of the legal profession is just beginning. The fact that she gets to do that in the state where her ancestors were once enslaved brings things full circle.
After working in tech and marketing for five years, Morgan is pursuing a new career that provides more personal fulfillment. She is embracing the opportunity to learn more about herself. “I did come to find myself,” she says of her move from the Pacific Northwest to North Carolina after growing up in a city with little diversity. “I’m adopted and my parents are White. That adds to my identity and what it means to be a person of color.”
The intersectionality of these identities has influenced Morgan’s path. She plans to use her experiences to promote the acceptance of people with different backgrounds as legal professionals. Increasing racial representation in the field is a particular focus for her. According to the 2020 American Bar Association’s Profile of the Legal Profession, about 5% of lawyers in the United States are Black. “I hope to create space and add representation for lawyers that look like me,” Morgan says, “and to become a resource for the next generation.”
Representation is important for Morgan. Growing up, she recalls, she did not have anyone who knew how to do her hair, which led her to often try to straighten her natural curls. “I remember running for student body treasurer in the seventh grade against this really popular girl, and the night before the election I begged my dad to get my hair straightened,” she says. “He was very reassuring and told me I didn’t need to do that.”
Morgan won the election, but that didn’t subdue her insecurity about looking different. “It’s hard to accept yourself when you’re not seeing people in your community who look like you,” she says.
At Elon, she’s forming relationships with her Black classmates, something that is helping her build her confidence academically and personally. The inclusive culture on campus has also allowed her to engage in conversations about her identities as she processes what it means to be Black in America. “We all have biases, and I still don’t expect some of the comments I get from my White and Black friends, but I’m learning to unpack and address our biases.
“I would tell seventh-grade Morgan to rock the curls because they’re awesome,” she says. “Love who you are and the way you look; there is only one you.”
Morgan is part of “Huemanity of People,” a series by the Division of Inclusive Excellence that celebrates the diversity of Elon’s community to uplift the values of inclusion and equity.