With help from a mentor, Ashlee Butler sets new goals
Ashlee Butler was a little tentative when she was preparing to start college. Having been homeschooled her entire life, she wondered whether she would be ready for life on campus. Those fears were allayed, however, as soon as she started her first semester at Ivy Tech Community College. In fact, she found that her homeschool experience helped her in adjust to college life.
“The pros of being a homeschool student include mastering such skills as time management and self-discipline,” says Butler. “Both of these qualities have served me well as a college student. I feel that already being dependable and able to complete assignments within a timely manner has allowed me to adjust more rapidly to the college atmosphere.”
Although there were many benefits to homeschooling, Butler acknowledges that it left her with some gaps in advanced math and science. She was nervous about how this would affect her performance in Ivy Tech’s core classes, but she credits her professors for helping her along the way. Ivy Tech’s small classes allowed Butler to feel at ease and get the one-on-one time with her professors she needed to excel.
It was in one of those small classes that she met one of her mentors, Professor Dr. Thomas Sobat. Butler became Sobat’s research assistant, working closely with him on his Forest Insect Ecology Project. This experience had a profound effect on Butler and became a defining moment in her academic journey. She started at Ivy Tech with the goal of earning an associate degree to become a veterinary technician, but her work with Dr. Sobat opened up a world of possibilities within the applied science field.
“The experience and insight I’ve gained throughout our short time doing research together has led me to expand upon my existing academic goals,” says Butler. “Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned is that if you’re persistent and passionate about something, anything’s possible.”
Butler has decided to follow her passion by pursuing not only a bachelor’s degree in Biology but also a doctorate in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and eventually a Ph.D. in Zoology.
According to Dr. Sobat, Butler is an exemplary student.
“She is motivated, observant, inquisitive, and highly analytical,” says Sobat. “Her presence at the College has prompted the development of a department-wide undergraduate research program, now available to all Ivy Tech Science students.”
Her work with Dr. Sobat led them to speak at the 129th annual Indiana Academy of Science Convention. It also gave Butler the opportunity to attend the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) research conference in West Lafayette, where she was honored to represent Ivy Tech as a student judge.
“My experience at Ivy Tech and being fortunate enough to meet Dr. Sobat has allowed me to find a career path I’m passionate about,” says Butler. “Whether it’s visiting wildlife refuges or working in the lab, I’m excited every day about the new challenges that await.”