By Kate Blankinship
By December of 2018, Ashley Cureton Turner, Resident Head (RH) of Crown House and Doctoral Student at the School of Social Service Administration (SSA), will have traveled to all seven continents.
“It is my ultimate goal to travel to every country in the world,” she said. And most of these travels, Ashley will have embarked upon alone.
When she’s not traveling across the world, she helps make sure UChicago feels like home for those who have travelled here. Ashley is a Ph.D. candidate and lecturer at UChicago’s SSA. When asked how she chose to study at UChicago, she mentioned her sister.
“My sister attended UChicago as a college student, and she raved about her experiences at this institution. After further consideration, I learned that SSA was a premier program for social work, so it seemed like a good fit for me. It was my goal to be in a rigorous environment pushing me to become a socially conscious and active social worker.”
She was right. SSA has proven to be not only academically challenging; it also has helped her become socially conscious by opening many doors. Ashley recently completed an internship at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Switzerland, and she’s currently serving on the leadership team for the Hyde Park Refugee Project.
While being a student, lecturer, and traveler, she still manages to make Crown House residents a priority.
Ashley chose to become an RH because “the idea of living among some of the brightest students appealed to me,” she said. Her husband, Tim Turner, was instantly on board. The couple enjoys being around young adults, helping them go through the various challenges that come with being college students.
The idea of living next door to students isn’t a bad thing in Ashley’s eyes. “They are the best neighbors,” she said. “I like being able to walk to the lounge and see a familiar face in that space. It's such a delight to cultivate a community where everyone feels connected to each other.”
For Ashley and Tim, cultivating a community—that can help students form connections and help with common issues, such as getting a low grade—is essential.
“It is my goal that each student who lives in Crown House can look back on this particular chapter of their lives with fond memories.”
Many of these memories will involve baked goods, as any one of Ashley’s residents know of her kitchen expertise.
Ashley and Tim don’t work alone to create lasting memories. The Housing system as a whole, from Resident Masters to Resident Assistants, helps. “I love the constant support we receive from the Housing office through check-ins and trainings.”
Yet check-ins and trainings don’t involve a how-to guide on how to wake up on bitter mornings and go to Kuvia with your residents. However, waking up at dawn to take part in sun salutations is one of Ashley’s fondest memories. Ashley chose this job because she loves spending time with residents, even at 6 a.m. or during the most random house activities.
“I also love participating in broom ball with my residents. While we rarely win the actual game, we display such a high level of house spirit that makes it fun. Last year, we played laser tagging, and I had a blast!”
Ashley has tackled being an RH in the same manner she has tackled traveling the world, with excitement and an eagerness to learn and meet new people. Though she is the one giving her time to residents, she feels that she’s also gaining something. “It is such a rewarding experience to encounter such brilliant and thoughtful students,” she said.