Meet Ashlyn Stone. Ashlyn graduated from Appalachian State University in 2019 with a BS degree in Sociology with a concentration in Criminology, Deviance, and Law and a minor in Political Science. She also graduated with departmental and college honors. As part of our alumni spotlight series, we asked Ashlyn to answer the following questions to tell us more about her journey since graduation and what she saw as helpful with a sociology degree.
1. What have you been doing since you left App State?
Since leaving Appalachian State in December 2019, I have been through many life changes. First, I graduated and planned to live in Europe for a few months, doing "workaways" (a platform that allows members to arrange homestays and cultural exchange), and then Covid-19 hit. I returned to Boone in February 2020 and began working at a bodega market in Blowing Rock, called Blowing Rock Market. I quickly became manager because older employees quit due to the pandemic, and I somehow became responsible for 20 college kids. I utilized my sociology skills by focusing on people skills – I noticed that Blowing Rock had a very specific culture and often felt like its own separate group away from the norms of Boone or anywhere else I lived. I utilized these skills to provide customer service and also to provide the leadership skills necessary to manage the market.
In August, I left Blowing Rock and moved to New York City, where I began my law school journey at St. John's University School of Law. I intended to work to progress society (a lofty goal perhaps, but Sociology will help you believe there is a way to make this societal mess better). In my first year of law school, I focused on grades and getting acclimated to a different and new culture. I also initiated a mental health initiative for law students starting in my first year, and after my first year, I served as a law clerk at a small firm helping plaintiffs in no-fault insurance claims. I felt like while the work was important, it was not my dream legal role, and I intended to pursue my dreams for the rest of law school.
My second year and the beginning of the third year have provided me with much opportunity and success. First, I joined a legal journal called Law Review, where I got the chance to write about the proposed labor rights of college athletes. Second, I became involved with the Labor Relations & Employment Law Society, where I learned the value of unionization, advocacy for the working class, and arguing for the inherent rights of the minoritized classes. Additionally, I became interested in Intellectual Property. In those courses, I learned about the value of advocating for the protection of marks and logos, small artists, and independent designs. I utilized these two interests to land my first externship job with Tapestry, Inc., the holding company for Coach Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman. I loved the culture of this group, and I got to work in fashion law, where I felt that my IP expertise was utilized. After Tapestry, I began working for Major League Baseball, utilizing all the knowledge I gathered involving IP, labor and employment, and general corporate work. Finally, I recently accepted a position with Alston & Bird after law school and the bar exam, beginning September 2023. I am excited to utilize all the skills I have developed in law school to become a well-rounded practicing attorney.
Finally, my law school journey would be remised if I did not discuss the public interest, pro bono, and other service opportunities I had while in law school. I created a 2-part event with the collegiate athletes of St. John's to inform them of their name, image, and likeness rights, to allow athletes to fundraise for themselves in college. I also worked for a consumer justice for the elderly litigation clinic, where I served as a student attorney to elderly clients who had been subject to fraud. I helped our low-income client receive an award of over $250,000 after she was subject to intentional fraud, targeting her status as a first-generation immigrant. Recently, I have begun researching reproductive rights, aiding OBGYNS who are subject to confusing and overreaching laws that states are now at liberty to enact following the Dobbs decision. I have also created a menstrual care product initiative at our school, allowing all women-identifying individuals access to hygiene products free of cost. Finally, I plan on practicing pro bono work after law school domestic violence, where I will represent victims in procuring protective orders. All of these opportunities have made the entire law school experience sweeter.
2. How did sociology at App State help or prepare you for your recent successes?
Sociology has allowed me to learn critical people skills that have allowed me to progress. I have learned the importance of working with my sub-culture in law school to build a network, interact with people's interests, and advocate for those less fortunate than myself.
Beyond that, I have used my sociology skills to advocate for the working class. Many folks enter law school and do not understand the importance of labor rights and the classes we have organized ourselves in. I have utilized my knowledge of the bourgeoise and proletariat in labor law classes. I have also used my knowledge of cultural norms to best advocate for the classes that need the voices most in our society.
3. What advice would you give to new sociology majors moving forward in our program and into the job market?
My best advice to students is to think hard about their career goals early in their academic careers. Sociology is such an exciting field that reveals the many issues that lie in front of us as a society, and those lessons are transferrable in any field you could go into. That being said, I think it is great to start a plan early on. For example, for law school, setting a plan early so you can consider schools, study for the LSAT, etc., is essential to a successful career. Additionally, utilize your resources. Reach out to alumni of Appalachian in the field you want to be in and ask them detailed questions about how they got where they are. There are so many excited and willing people around to talk to you who would love to help.
Congratulations to Ashlyn for her success, and the Department of Sociology looks forward to seeing her achieve her goals!