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Pat Tillman Award Winner Completing First Semester of OU MAIR

After working for the US Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, Ashley La Rue knew she wanted a career advocating for human rights. Today, her work involves delivering newborn care packages to refugee families at emergency shelters in Vienna, Austria. In the next five years, La Rue wants to start a Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) to expand advocacy for the rights of women and children across the world, beginning with partnerships in Senegal to end the practice of child begging in schools.

La Rue is also a military spouse: her husband has 16 years of service in the US Army, and she could not be prouder of him. “I have been inspired by his love and service to a cause greater than himself and aspired to follow in his footsteps.”

To aid her progress, she is enrolled in her first semester of OU’s MAIR program. She believes the flexibility of classes offered and the variety of subjects, along with the professors who teach, make this degree an important foundation for any international affairs career.

“I find the online forum educational and engaging,” La Rue said. “I’ve enjoyed being able to interact with my classmates and appreciate the breadth of knowledge and experience they are able to bring to the discussion.”

She is well on her way to making her dreams reality, and others are taking notice: she has been named a 2016 Pat Tillman Scholar for International Studies. The Pat Tillman Foundation honors active-duty service members, veterans and military spouses with scholarships to cover educational expenses. Selection is based on educational and career ambitions, record of military service or community impact as a military spouse, demonstration of service, pursuit of personal achievement and making a positive difference in one’s town or city. Once awarded, scholars must attend a leadership summit in Chicago, maintain full-time student status with high academic standing and showcase high moral character and leadership.

“Throughout my husband’s military service, I have been deeply involved in serving our communities, both by mentoring fellow spouses and volunteering,” said La Rue. “In addition to my husband’s service, the service of my fellow Tillman Scholars, both spouses and veterans, continues to be a constant inspiration fueling my desire to go forward and make my mark on the world.”

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