Whether through a tutoring website for fifth graders at Buford Senior Academy, a mental health campaign for teenagers on Instagram or an area nonprofit building houses for low-income families, helping others has been a significant part of Ashley LaCombe’s high school experience thus far.
The Buford High School senior is an active and engaged student who maintains a 4.0 GPA while taking AP classes, participating in several clubs, creating art and giving back to the local community.
“I received a lot of assistance from the community when I was younger including food boxes and toys from charities,” Ashley said. “These blessings meant a lot to me and my family! Now, I want to be able to help provide for those in need!”
Ashley said the project that has been most influential for her has been creating a tutoring website called Study Wolves with her best friend, Emily Tran. The website is a project for National Honor Society, an academic honor society for juniors and seniors, and it helps fifth grade students in Ms. SaResa Williams’ class at Buford Senior Academy improve their math skills. As part of the project, Ashley visits with the students once a week.
“I enjoy being able to help the students with studying for assessments and with homework,” Ashley said. “I thought it was important for these students to have resources online to help them!”
In 2019, Ashley’s mother, Jomayra Fortuna, applied to become a homeowner through Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that helps families obtain affordable housing.
“In 2021, after gaining equity hours by working on other houses, our house was built in Dacula,” said Ashley, who spoke earlier this year at a Habitat for Humanity fundraiser on how the organization has helped her family.
“My ultimate goal is to help other young kids who are in the position that I was in before so that they don’t have to stress over financial burdens and are able to achieve whatever they desire in life,” Ashley said.
Through HOSA, a national student organization that promotes career opportunities in the health care industry and enhances the delivery of quality health care, Ashley and her friends started the “Bee Happier” project in which they maintain an Instagram account sharing mental health advice for teenagers. Ashley said it’s important to spread the word about mental health challenges and to destigmatize those experiences.
Ashley is a Buford Lifetimer — she has attended Buford City Schools since kindergarten. She is an AP Scholar with Distinction, an honor awarded to students who receive an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP exams taken and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams.
Ashley has the following advice for underclassmen at Buford:
“Don’t rush through anything in high school,” she said. “Take more time to act in the moment because it’s better than spending more time regretting your inaction. Apply for that leadership position, enter that contest, go to that state competition; take initiative. Buford provides so many opportunities for students to be involved and gain lifelong skills so be active! With that being said, also take care of yourself! By the end of your senior year, you want to be able to look back without regret! Love, appreciate, and believe in yourself!”
After graduation, Ashley plans to attend a STEM-centered university to study biochemistry or biomedical engineering.
“Working in a lab and collaborating with other scientists would be a dream come true,” she said. “In the future, I want to make a significant contribution to our knowledge of the world, beyond what the eye can see.”
Ashley also wants to serve as an example to other students.
“I want to be remembered as a student who came out of her shell to grasp those opportunities that her younger self wouldn’t have taken out of uncertainty,” she said. “I know that there are many younger students who are as shy as I used to be, and I want to serve as an example of what great things they can accomplish by active participation and speaking up!”