Miss Black Washington USA inspires equity at WSU

Ashley Wells hopes to mentor young Black women with her new title

ALISA VOLZ, Evergreen reporter

Ashley Wells, a Ph.D. student at WSU, was named Miss Black Washington USA 2023. 

With her new title, Wells said she hopes to help inspire young, minority students, particularly Black women and girls.

“I just really want to help create spaces for undergraduate, minority students to learn more about themselves and figure out where they belong in this world,” Wells said. 

Miss Black USA was the perfect platform to help achieve this dream, she said. 

“I decided to look into pageant organizations that cater to Black women specifically, and the Miss Black USA organization seemed to be the perfect fit for me,” Wells said. “The organization’s mission statement centers around empowering Black women to use their voice and all their power, which is directly in line with my academic research and my career aspirations.” 

Wells said that involvement in pageants is a new occurrence for her. While she wanted to compete in pageants as a child, she did not get involved until she was 25. 

“I honestly had a little bit of a quarter-life crisis,” she said. “I was sitting down with myself one day and I asked myself, ‘Ashley, is there anything that you want to do or accomplish that you haven’t had a chance to yet?’ And the one and only thing that really came to my mind was that I always really wanted to compete in a pageant.”

A major factor in participating in pageants was to improve her public speaking skills, Wells said

“I have always really wanted to work on my public speaking skills, especially with the future career that I want and just in terms of being able to inspire and impact women who look like me,” she said.  

In terms of a future career, Wells said she hopes to work in higher education administration where she can help inspire and impact minority students. 

Wells currently works as a graduate assistant at Multicultural Student Services where she gets to help mentor undergraduate students from diverse, minority backgrounds.  

“I’ve really been enjoying my time up here, and I’m looking forward to working with this center a lot more in the coming years,” she said. 

Ashley Wells, Miss Black Washington USA 2023

Kyle Serrott, Wells’ friend and colleague, said he admires how driven, passionate, and focused Wells is. 

“She’s really passionate about mental health, especially among Black women,” Serrott said. “She’s also really passionate about representation overall, in terms of Black women in graduate school, Black women and like the pageant world, and just Black women overall, especially in the graduate community.” 

Serrott wants people to know just how kind and funny Wells is. 

“Sometimes she can come across as reserved or serious because she’s so passionate about her work, but Ashley is hilarious,” he said. “She does have a light-hearted side and funny side and we’re constantly laughing together.” 

Wells inspires him with her passion and work, Serrott said.

Wells said an accomplishment she is very proud of is being the co-founder of the non-profit organization The Prosperity Project.  

“We were founded in 2020 during the height of the pandemic, and we’re dedicated to improving the economic mobility of college-educated Black women,” she said. 

Wells wants to foster financial literacy in marginalized groups in order to assist them with economic mobility, she said. 

“We want to make sure that Black women are able to have financial literacy components underneath them so that they’re not always within the debt systems,” Wells said. 

Wells hopes to continue to inspire and mentor young Black women and girls through her work as Miss Black Washington USA and in her future career.