Monday, February 26, 2018

Family Tragedy Leads to a Career Change for Vol State Grad

It’s typical for college students to change their major once or twice, but for one student, her reason was tragic and deeply emotional. Ashley Pearson received her Vol State degree in Criminal Justice. Ashley previously attended Motlow State Community College for Nursing. “I was going through a divorce. I was looking at Vol State, because I didn’t like Motlow. I ended up having some health problems that kept me out of school for about a year. Right as those things were going on, my brother was murdered.”
Christopher Reese was shot to death while working at a convenience store in Notus, Idaho. “I fell to the floor when I got the call, my mother was screaming on the other end, and when I saw her, it really hit me, it was like flashback, because I had experienced the loss of a child, except I didn’t have mine for twenty-five years like she did. My mother couldn’t function. When you go through something like that, you just can’t think straight. I remember her sitting in her chair, she had cried so much there were no tears left.”

Ashley poured herself into her brother’s unsolved case, researching any type of information she could find and maintaining a close relationship with the detectives. The case was tough because the killers were disguised. They came into the store completely covered, wearing masks. “I knew I had to step up to make sure everything was in place. I just started making phone calls and going over the photos of the men who killed him. It’s like you’re in shock, but you’re still going, you just have to push through it. I did the best I could to try to take care of everything so my mom wouldn’t have to.”

The detectives began noticing how diligently Ashley conducted her research. In fact, one investigator mentioned to her that she would make an excellent detective. “I kind of laughed it off. But then I found myself on Vol State’s website looking at the Criminal Justice program. I thought, this might be something I’d really want to do, and I signed up for the program. I fell in love with the school and my classes. I worked as hard as I possibly could to graduate, not just for myself and my kids, but for him. The doors opened up, I had prayed a lot about it, and everything fell into place. I feel like this is where I needed to be.”

Christopher’s case is still unresolved. “We do these interviews for him, to keep him out there, to let people know that he was somebody’s son, brother, and father. We plead with the public to tell us information, and we pray for closure every day.” Her family continues to search for answers. Ashley intends to pursue a career in criminal psychoanalysis, counseling, or a similar field. Meanwhile, she plans to continue her Criminal Justice studies at Western Kentucky University.

-Rachel Keyes, PR Student Social Media Writer

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