Ashton Shepler is a student who leads by quiet example and uses her intelligence, her ambition and her passion to support and advocate for issues that are close to her heart and tied closely to the communities in which she is involved. As a passionate animal welfare advocate and future Veterinarian, Ashton identified an issue within the agriculture and veterinary community that has sparked action and a call to raise public awareness for race horse retirement. Since the age of 13, Ashton has worked tirelessly with the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Retirement program to rehabilitate and rehome retired race horses. Her passion for animal welfare has guided her actions in all areas of her life and continues to be a driving force of her education and pursuit of ways to further contribute to this issue. In addition to her work with a formal organization, Ashton volunteers on a rehabilitation farm where retired race horses are kept during recovery from injury. She is not only a passionate communicator on this issue, but Ashton is working directly with these animals during every part of their transition. She is a servant leader that puts her passion to work in every sense.
One of the principles I learned at a young age was that the well-being of my animals should always be my top priority. As I matured I began to realize not everyone was raised how I was; animal abuse was a reality and there was a lack of public concern for animal welfare that alarmed me. Those realizations along with my compassion for animals have fueled my commitment to increasing public awareness regarding animal welfare. At 13, I began volunteering with an organization which rehabilitates and rehomes retired racehorses. Having been raised in the racing industry, I have seen the fate unwanted racehorses could face and I am passionate about the cause. The communication skills I have gained during my time with this organization have allowed me to better connect to the community in my efforts to raise awareness. I am the president of the Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Animal Welfare club on campus which allows me to organize volunteer opportunities with local rescues and shelters. My dedication to animal welfare has translated into a career in veterinary medicine, and I am currently working as a veterinary technician gaining experience which will allow me to better advocate for animal well-being.