Student Profile: Ashley Kohler

Misha Khan

Photo courtesy of Ashley Kohler

Ready. Aim. Fire! Ashley Kohler readies herself as she shoots the skeet racing past her in the distance to smithereens.

Kohler, a senior and the current captain of the Jacksonville University sporting clays, trap and skeet team, started shooting when she was approximately 10 years old. She grew up hunting using both shotguns and rifles, depending on if she was upland game hunting or large game hunting.

When she found out there was a shooting team starting up at JU, she wanted to perfect her shotgun skills and continue shooting recreationally.

“Shooting has taught me leadership both on and off the range,” Kohler said. “It has provided me a unique sense of camaraderie with my teammates, and another sense of family so far from home. I love shooting because it is incredibly satisfying blowing up a clay target. Men and women all compete at the same level, and it puts us all on the same playing field. It’s also very satisfying to beat the guys.”

Unexpected to Kohler, she built an “incredible” network of professionals from shooting with all the members of the Jacksonville Gun Club.

“It has gained me unique letters of recommendation from doctors and surgeons from the Jacksonville area,” she said.

Something Kohler would tell an aspiring captain for the team is to lead with confidence and be encouraging to everyone. In reference to people interested in joining the team, she believes everyone can learn to shoot a gun responsibly and that there is no fear of being left behind.

“Shooting has strengthened my character by making me unafraid of firearms and empowered me to take the lead in stressful situations,” she said.

Kohler loves the satisfaction of obliterating a target flying at 50-60 mph.

“Shooting with JU has been inspiring,” she said. “We have taken a little club of eight members to a varsity sport with more than 30 members. I love that I helped make that happen.”

Kohler has been on squads which took third place at Nationals in International Skeet and American Skeet. She has also helped to take the team to first place at Southeastern Jacksonville Invitational Collegiate Shoot in fall 2010 and spring 2011 and runner-up in the same competition fall 2011. She believes that this year the team will take first this semester.

Kohler sees the shooting team differently than others would because of her involvement as a founding member of the varsity team.

“It’s incredible to have seen us come this far,” she said. “It became my baby, watching it expand and succeed at local, state and national levels.”

Outside of being the captain of the sporting clays, trap and skeet team, Kohler has been a group leader for orientation, the Educational Programming Coordinator for orientation, and a Big Dolphin mentor. She is active in Alpha Delta Pi sorority, the Green Key Honorary Leadership Society, and was involved in Jacksonville University Student Alliance for two years. She is also a member of the JU honors program.

She joined ADPi because she was searching for a family. Coming from north Minnesota, she believed she needed a strong support system that would always have her back.

“I knew when I met the ladies of ADPi that I had found that home,” Kohler said. “I love the sisterhood that my sisters provide me with. Whenever I am stressed or just need a friend, I always have a sister that will drop everything and be there for me.”

Kohler attended a tiny rural farm school in Watertown, Minn. called Watertown-Mayer High School. There were approximately 500 students in the entire school.

“I came to JU because my grandmother went here,” she said. “I grew up always coming to Jacksonville to visit my mother’s relatives and knew I wanted to move down here.”

Coming from a small high school, Kohler loves the small school atmosphere and the professors that she has been “fortunate to study under.”

“JU has given me an incredible opportunity to intern in the Neurosurgery unit at the Mayo Clinic,” said Kohler. “It has also provided me the confidence to take on anything and to pursue my dream of becoming a surgeon.”

Kohler has helped many students transition into college by showing them there is a way to be successful academically while still being involved socially and leadership-wise.

“I would tell [incoming freshman] to get involved and to stay focused on academics,” she said. “It’s important not to forget that they have been given the privilege of an education. Don’t waste your opportunity.”

Kohler’s favorite thing about the campus is the natural beauty of the campus.

She is an English major and biology minor with a pre-medical concentration.

“My favorite thing is being able to combine my passion for science and medicine, as well as my love of literature,” Kohler said. “I chose English because it provides me the skills of being able to look at both literature and science literature critically.”

After graduating this semester, Kohler plans to go on to medical school and become a surgeon.

Kohler wanted to share with the student body to take advantage of what JU provides.

“Don’t be afraid to use the network that JU has provided you,” she said. “So many people are on your side, rooting for you.  Don’t shun them out just because you may have had a bad experience.”