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Motivated Through Hardships

WWA scholarship fulfills Sumpter's dream of degree

Ashley Sumpter with her daughter

Ashley Sumpter, bas ’16, accomplished something this spring she never thought she could: earning a bachelor’s degree. Realizing her dream would not have been possible without the scholarship she received the past two years from the Washburn Women’s Alliance.

Sumpter grew up in an unstable home where she felt she had no place. Her parents were addicts, and the home was constantly host to random visitors. Sumpter and her sister were taught to be invisible and stay out of the way. She lived this way for 10 years before she and her sister were taken into state custody and became separated in the foster care system. 

Fortunately, they weren’t apart for long, as her maternal grandparents stepped in and adopted them when Sumpter was 11 years old. 

“This is the day I remember being able to understand that an adult could actually believe in me,” Sumpter said.

Years passed, and one big motivator caused Sumpter to make the decision to get a college education. Her daughter, Emmalyn Kristine, was born in 2005, and she decided to pursue her degree. When she encountered additional hardships, she took a break from school. When she returned in 2009, she was taking classes part time, balancing work and being a mom. She was also coaching her daughter’s volleyball team and working with students at Pauline South Intermediate school, Topeka, Kansas. 

When she first received the WWA scholarship two years ago, Sumpter said it made the difference for her to finish her degree in human services, with a certificate in addiction counseling because she was able to go to school full time. She recently received the WWA scholarship for a third year and started pursuing her master’s degree in 2016.

“That scholarship gave me the empowerment I needed,” Sumpter said. “It told me somebody believed in me. I don’t know if I would have finished without the financial help.”

Sumpter works as an addiction counselor at the Topeka Treatment Center, which provides substance abuse treatment to help people live a drug-free lifestyle. She hopes to buy a house and continues to provide for her daughter as she progresses in the field for which she has a great deal of passion.

“I want to guide those who need help,” said Sumpter. “So much of society just walks by addicts and thinks they can ignore them because these people are not their problem. It’s up to us to help these people and make them better members of this society. I want to help them see they can make their dreams into goals and their goals into reality.”


“That scholarship gave me the empowerment I needed. It told me somebody believed in me. I don’t know if I would have finished without the financial help.”

Ashley Sumpter, bas ’16


About WWA

Washburn Women's Alliance

In 1995, the Washburn Women’s Alliance was established to provide scholarship assistance for nontraditional female students enrolled at Washburn University. The organization continues to raise money to help assure that single parents regardless of gender will be afforded the opportunity to continue their education. More than $810,000 has been awarded through WWA since its inception. Learn more.

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1729 MacVicar Avenue
Topeka, KS 66604 Phone: 785.670.4483