Mikayla Whiteley and “Doc” Ashton were strangers just a matter of months ago. Now, Mikayla knows enough about Doc to share his life history with others.
“Definitely probably been the highlight of my semester was doing this project,” says Whiteley.
The project is part of a communication class at Williston State College. Close to 40 students spent a semester learning about veterans who were either members of their family or the local community. They then shared what they learned in an oral presentation open to the public.
And while the project was initially challenging:
“At times, you have to ask uncomfortable questions. I mean this is the first time I’ve ever met this person and I wanted him to share his whole life with me,” says Whiteley.
She didn’t shy away from the task.
“She asked a lot tougher questions than you are,” Loye “Doc” Ashton says.
Doc was eager to hear Mikayla’s presentation and even asked for a copy of her speech to share with his daughter.
“I’m sure she’ll be interested. She just likes to know Dad’s still alive. That’s what she likes to know,” Ashton jokes.
But he was also eager just to have the opportunity to share his story with someone so young.
“There’s so much competition in their heads for time. So for someone to take the time that she did, I was very pleased and very impressed,” Ashton says.
Mikayla was equally impressed with him.
“He’s so passionate about preserving history. He gave me a tour of his store and every little detail was historical. And talking to him was like looking through a real-life history book,” says Whiteley.
Strangers just months ago. But now connected by a class assignment that turned into a real-life history lesson.
Williston State College will be posting the veterans’ stories on a website that the community will be able to access.