Welcome to the 3rd post of the HU Alumni Spotlight, a monthly series that aims to highlight the significant contributions of Hampton University alumni who continue to let their lives do the singing. This month we feature distinguished Hampton alumna Asha Castleberry ’06.
First Name: Asha
Last Name: Castleberry
Graduation Year: 2006
Class Name: Ogre Phi Ogre 12
Major: Political Science
Minor: Military Science
Graduate School Programs and Graduating Year(s): Masters in International Affairs, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University 2012
Current Employer: United States Military
Current Occupation: The Rank of Captain
We asked Ms. Castleberry a series of questions to gain insight into her unique leadership perspective. Her responses are below.
What advice would you give to a recent Hampton graduate and other young alumni? What was the most important thing you learned while attending Hampton University?
The most important thing that I learned while attending Hampton University was during my study abroad trip in China. During my junior year, I studied law and business in Shanghai, China. I learned about the rise of the Chinese economy and their culture. I also learned about other U.S. foreign policy in China and with other Southeast Asian countries like Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and South & North Korea. For my senior thesis, I wrote about the 1978 Chinese Economic Reform: The Post Deng Xiaoping Era. I recommend for recent graduates and students to consider studying or working abroad. Just like me, your experiences abroad will change your life and impact your career decisions. You will reap so many benefits. On a personal basis, a fellow Hamptonian and I studied together. We share this unique experience together. Also, I met one of my first mentors, Dr. Boyce Watkins who is a well-known economists, black activists, and author. For my professional development, my first trip encouraged me to do more work abroad. After I graduated from Hampton University, I earned additional scholarships to study abroad in the United Kingdom at the University of Oxford and participated work abroad in Latin America and the Middle East. My initial abroad experiences cultivated me to be a great global citizen, obtain a sharper perspective about 21st century global challenges and acquire a better understanding about international affairs. As a result, my decision to study abroad provided a competitive edge against my peers in academia and as a military officer.
What campus organizations were you involved with?
I was an active member in the Hampton University ROTC Program, Hampton University Marching Force and Concert Band, the Peer Counselor Program, Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honors Society, Phi Alpha Delta Law Honors Society, and volunteered as a tutor at a local elementary schools. I learned from every single experience. On a personal note, I was touched from by the passing of our great band director, Dr. Barney E. Smart. I enjoyed being part of his band and I am excited to find out that his son, Tory Smart will continue his legacy as the current band director. As a proud alumni, I often reflect back to my extracurricular activities and love sharing how I benefited from these experiences. I gain a lot of respect for being extremely active in both very demanding organizations like ROTC and the Marching Band.
Why did you choose Hampton University?
I choose Hampton University for several reasons. First, my mother graduated from Hampton Institute in 1978 with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology. She inspired me to apply. Just like me, we both stayed in W.E.B Dubois Hall!
Also, my goal was to participate in the ROTC program and earn a scholarship. Lastly, I always wanted to attend an HBCU. I believe Hampton University is the best HBCU because the institution is both prestigious and unique. Hampton University does a great job cultivating tomorrow’s leaders to be competitive professionals in the job market.
What are your hobbies and/or other interests?
I enjoy reading, writing, and speaking in forums about U.S. Foreign Policy specifically U.S. National Security Issues in the Middle East Region. I am passionate about influencing U.S. foreign policy because I believe that our country needs to diversify the voices in U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. has maintained a low percentage of minorities participating in foreign policy decisions. We need to generate more minorities to participate in these discussions. Also, I love learning new languages. During my deployment overseas, I acquired the basic level of the Arabic language. Currently, I am continuing to strengthen my language skill-sets.