Peace. Freedom. Happiness. So many of us take these basic human rights for granted. Ashante Taylorcox knows that for many people - especially women - peace, freedom and happiness are only distant dreams.
Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in music education, Ashante is committed to helping women make those dreams come true. “I want to be an agent for change,” she says, “and work to end human trafficking around the world.” As the survivor of sexual exploitation and rape as a child, she has a personal connection with the women and children who have endured situations that are unimaginable to many. She has volunteered her time and talent to domestic and international organizations devoted to empowering women, which has also helped her to heal from her own abusive experiences.
While a student at Westminster, Ashante established The Akun Project, a recognized student organization. Taking its name from the Khmer word for thank you, The Akun Project focuses on developing global leaders by establishing creative and sustainable programs that raise awareness about issues affecting our world today. This past year the Project held several events to build awareness about human trafficking and to raise funds for nonprofits supporting educational programs here and abroad.
She has traveled to Cambodia twice to volunteer for the Cambodian Kids Foundation, a non-political, not-for-profit organization working to empower the people of Cambodia through sustainable programs starting at the grass roots level. During her time there, she has taught music in the Soksan International School, and worked with the young girls and the women of the community to develop and implement a Stranger Danger/Anti Trafficking Policy and Program for the school.
“I was absolutely inspired, touched and moved,” Ashante says about her three weeks in Cambodia. Sam Cooper, founder and president of the Cambodian Kids Foundation, wrote about her work, “Ashante’s motivation and generosity is outstanding and simply a breath of fresh air.”
In May she will transition from volunteering for the Cambodian Kids Foundation to serving as its executive director in the United States. This fall she will also enroll in Rider’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program.
Ashante’s accomplishments have earned her a number of awards. Her hometown of Piscataway presented her with the Frontiers International Service Award, and she recently received an Outstanding Achievement Award from New Jersey’s Educational Opportunity Fund recognizing her campus leadership.
Reflecting on the past year and the Akun Project’s accomplishments, she says, “I am unbelievably blessed to know all of these people and through having such passionate people in this world, help make a change. We've impacted people’s lives, and they all have greatly impacted my life. Thank you for showing me that a flower can grow from concrete and turn into something amazing.”