Marching into life
As the 2011 Robert L. Hill Distinguished Senior, Ashton Harmon Butler carried the senior class banner during commencement exercises May 14, leading about 500 fellow classmates.
Ashton's focus and drive landed her that honor, given to a senior in the top 2 percent of the class who pursues a rigorous academic curriculum and is involved in campus and community life.
Ashton has those qualifications in spades. She double majored in accounting and marketing with a 3.97 GPA and spent a lot of time as a PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) Leader in accounting, helping tutor other students.
And well before graduation, she landed a job with an accounting firm in Norfolk. At LC, Ashton discovered her love of taxes. "People think I'm crazy to want to go into taxes," she said. Preparing a federal income tax return is like doing spy work, she explained. She gets to know a lot about her clients.
"Nobody's tax return is the same," she said. That variety holds her interest. Beginning her sophomore year, she did a paid spring internship with the Lynchburg accounting firm of Davidson, Doyle & Hilton. "I did the tax season crunch," she explained.
A native of Chesapeake, Ashton said her mom suggested Lynchburg College would be a good fit because she did so well at a small, private middle school. It proved to be good advice. She made Dean's List her freshman year and was inspired by the top awards given to seniors at the Academic Awards Banquet. She left saying, "I want to do that." She also admired her PASS Leaders and wanted to be able to help others.
For Ashton, the formula was simple: "I don't go out on the weekend; I do my homework."
She thrives on challenges and said that Nancy Schneider, professor of accounting, was both the hardest and best teacher she had. She also put in a good word for Ashton at Goodman & Co., the Norfolk accounting firm where Ashton knew she wanted to work. Now that's where Ashton is headed.
Her career goal wasn't always to become a CPA. After taking cosmetology in high school, Ashton came to college with the idea she would open her own hair salon one day, but instead she fell in love with accounting, and taxes in particular.
While Ashton will be glad to be back in her home territory, there is one thing she will really miss at Lynchburg College. "My sister Allyson is a rising junior here," she said. And her younger brother Austen is also thinking about coming to LC. That will likely bring Ashton back to Lynchburg for many years to come.