We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Hixson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ashley, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
Hustle culture. I’m an academic and the standard by which we are socialized to function and operate is to continuously produce research through publications and presentations without rest. Thankfully, I’m in a doctoral program where my faculty not only encourages self-care but they also model it. Hustle culture is rooted in white supremacy by commodifying one’s labor (intellectual, physical, emotional) through production and may impact one’s mental health–that certainly was the case for me. I am a recovering member of hustle culture (and sometimes relapse), yet I have become more thoughtful in promoting self-care and wellness through a balanced lifestyle. I’ve experienced and witnessed the detriments of hustle culture and want people to cultivate and foster lifestyles that consider the whole person and their well-being. I recently read an article that highlighted millennials and gen zer’s perspectives on remote work where over 90% preferred working remotely over being in a brick and mortar space due to the stressors that come from the office environment. Although working remotely may be unlikely (right now) for some professions/industries, the result of that article does indicate a positive trend of people being more mindful of the environments in which they work and the need to prioritize mental health. Living through a pandemic has been tumultuous and uncomfortable and devastating for many of us. If we have learned nothing else, my hope is that we are more thoughtful with incorporating mindfulness activities where the only results are that we feel good holistically.

In my entrepreneurial endeavors, I plan out my week and my goals to allow myself “undeserved” breaks. Through experience, I know that even when I want to hustle through the work two things will inevitably happen; my body will shut down and take the break or something else will become a priority (grocery run, a healthy phone call with an old friend, a random vaccination appointment for the panoramic) where I am forced to take the break. I love being an academic researcher., which is why I started The Shesearchers. I have the opportunity to teach, consult, and contribute knowledge that amplifies the experiences of marginalized people. For me to continue in this work, I must be whole and devoid of things that negatively impact my overall health.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

For most of my professional career, I have worked in higher education and student affairs. In 2018, I left my full-time position to begin my doctoral program as a full-time student at the University of Maryland, College Park. My research interests focus on the intersections of race, gender, and technology in higher education, the diverse experiences of Black collegians and academics, career pathways for professionals of color, graduate education equity and inclusion initiatives, and strategic leadership planning. I have served in higher education and student affairs since 2012–developing collegians and professionals in their academic and career endeavors with a distinct focus on equity and social justice. My portfolio includes:

  • Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Practices
    • Climate Study Research
    • Leadership Education
    • Curriculum Development
    • Multicultural Programming
    • TRIO Programs
    • Advising and Retention
    • Career Counseling and Development
  • New Student Orientation and Transition

I undoubtedly believe that my academic and professional trajectory has been nothing short of God’s grace. I am a first-generation college student and the learning curve of the social aspects for surviving college has been as equally challenging as the educational piece. I am also grateful to have a family of believers who champion me and my goals in all ways. My family and friends have supported me and are proud of me and knowing that I have a tribe of people standing alongside me, keeps me motivated to complete work that is oftentimes difficult and frustrating.

In 2020, I birthed The Shesearchers. The Shesearchers is a community of Black womxn scholars, educators, and practitioners with a commitment to centering and amplifying The Culture through their research. The Shesearchers celebrates Black womxn’s research and normalizes what research is and the multiple ways that it can be conducted. In the ways that research has been understood, The Shesearchers seeks to reduce the off putting stigma of research, such as who can conduct research, the right and rigorous forms of research, etc. The Shesearchers offers perspectives that may challenge emerging researchers while also embracing multiple ways of learning, knowing, and doing.
Through The Shesearchers, I received inquiries from members inside academia and in other industries to lead and support their diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and later established A. Hixson and Associates, LLC. A. Hixson and Associates, LLC is a consulting agency offering services to internally enhance equity and inclusion practices for organizational culture. My focus with this work is to move beyond the passive language colleges/universities, companies, and organizations use when there is a national or global hate bias incident. With an academic background in public relations, I recognize when the external-facing communication of an organization does not align with the actual experiences of its constituents. Therefore, it has become a privilege for me to offer my services in support of the people working in environments that isolate people with marginalized identities.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Sunday: Afternoon cruise on the Potomac River through Noire Waters Yacht Chartering (www.noirewaters.com) followed by dinner at Jasper’s Restaurant in Largo
Monday: Walking tour around the Washington D.C. monuments and sites
Tuesday: Milk and Honey Cafe (Bowie Location)
Wednesday: Turning Natural Smoothies and Yoga at the Navy Yard
Thursday: Bustboys and Poets – Open Mic Night (Hyattsville Location)
Friday: 12 Stories Rooftop at The Wharf
Saturday: Wine Tasting in Northern Virginia

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
In addition to my family and friends, my mentors and femtors are phenomenal. This group of people is incredibly supportive, brilliant, kind, and just all-around good people. They have truly been the fire that has helped me walk with an academic stride that encourages me to be a teacher (confidence) and student (humility). Their investment in my success is indescribable. One of my mentors, Dr. Reginald J. Motley, recently passed away. He was also my first supervisor in my career and championed me and my success professionally and academically. He encouraged me to apply and reapply for my doctoral pursuits, invited me to co-present with him at my first national conference, and brainstormed ideas on how I executed my entrepreneurial pursuits with The Shesearchers. I also want to dedicate this to his loving wife and children, Bridgette, Gisele, and Max.

Website: https://ashbhixson.wixsite.com/abhcv2020

Instagram: @the_shesearchers

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