Tiffany Ashton - Atkins High School, NC

Front Page Summary: 

Tiffany Ashton, a senior and member of the Atkins High School TSA chapter in North Carolina, discusses her passion for TSA, her singing career, and how she is pursuing her dreams. 

Tiffany Ashton is a member of the Atkins High School TSA chapter in North Carolina. She has been a TSA member for seven years, and has been singing and performing since age six. Recently, Tiffany talked with us about her love for TSA, singing, and how she balances her busy schedule.
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How did you get involved with TSA?

In the sixth grade, I was introduced to STEM curriculum through engineering classes that I found absolutely fascinating. My teacher in these classes, Mr. Eckart, established the Hanes Middle School TSA Chapter in 2009 and recruited me specifically for Flight Endurance. Out of fifteen founding members, I was the only girl and only sixth grader, and I was anxious leading up to my first state conference. After meeting other driven students all weekend while constructing, testing, and inadvertently crashing gliders during Flight Endurance, I left that first conference wanting to achieve more with new confidence, and I was hooked from then on!

How long have you been a part of TSA?

As a senior, this is my seventh year in TSA since starting in sixth grade.

What is your favorite TSA memory?

Winning the national first place in Essays on Technology two years ago is not only my favorite TSA memory, but definitely one of my favorite memories in general. I have always had a passion for writing and had never been a national finalist, so to simply be called to the stage was a dream. When they called my name for first place, my jaw dropped. After five years of work, I had not only placed at nationals, but won first! It is definitely my favorite, most unforgettable TSA moment.

What makes your TSA chapter special?

During my freshman year, Atkins High School was a newly created STEM focused school with a small TSA chapter of only six students the previous year. As I conducted school tours to recruit new, prospective students to our school, it was a natural extension to invite and encourage their participation in our TSA chapter. The exponential growth of our chapter throughout the past three years has been rewarding, and I am proud to have contributed to that growth. Currently Atkins is one of the largest chapters in North Carolina, where five years ago there was only a single member. Watching as our chapter grows in technological expertise, experience, awards and membership, we have exceeded all expectations, and that is what makes the Atkins chapter so special.

Tell us a little bit about your singing career.

At six years old, I was given a solo to sing at my church, and this lead to soloing at even larger churches and performances in ballpark stadiums across the southeast. I’ve performed at Make A Wish events, historic Dodgertown Stadium in Florida, and Carnegie Hall in New York. When I was eleven, I picked up a guitar and started coming up with melodies on my own. The Christmas I was twelve, I wrote my first song, and from there I have kept building on my passion for music, recording my songs, and growing as an artist.

Nashville is my favorite place to play because I love country music, and at almost every venue there is an excellent sound room for singer-songwriters. I have also had the opportunity to play at the renowned Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta, Georgia, opening for Mac Powell of the band Third Day, which was an amazing experience! I’ll be playing in Hollywood, California this November while I’m there as a nominee for the Hollywood Music in Media Awards, so I am excited for that upcoming opportunity!

My original songs, which are posted to my YouTube, are my favorites because most often they are written based on a personal experience. As far as my originals, I could not pick a favorite simply because each of these experiences was unique. My inspiration often comes from the emotion in these experiences, so to me they are each in categories, and it would be a shame to compare apples to oranges. As far as someone else’s music, I love the song “I Hope You Dance” because it is so inspiring with beautiful advice!

Who is your role model and how have they helped you achieve success so far?

Leonardo Da Vinci is my greatest intellectual role model because as someone who is devoted to music and innovation, Da Vinci’s mastery in integrating the arts and the sciences receives my highest admiration. I aspire to reach my fullest potential in both music and STEM, and Da Vinci has been my inspiration for that.

What is your favorite TSA competition and why?

I enjoyed Prepared Presentation because finding a new twist for each year’s theme excites me, and as I have matured as a performer and public speaker, my presentation has received higher awards each year. I was a national finalist this past year, and it seems fitting that the theme for my senior year is “building a legacy!”

How do you balance TSA, your schoolwork, social life, and singing career?

Although things don’t always go as planned, prioritizing is the key to juggling it all. I make sure to write down deadlines, rank their importance, and get them done accordingly. Oftentimes, that means missing out on the Friday night football game to play a show or staying up late to prepare for TSA, but seeing the results makes all the hard work worth it for me.

What advice do you have for TSA members on pursuing their dreams?

Don’t let anyone tell you the limits of your capabilities. If you have a passion, pursue it, and if you have many passions, pursue them all. If an opportunity interests you, take it—you may be surprised by where life takes you, but in following your passion it will be a beautiful ride.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan to attend college in the fall, majoring in engineering, minoring in writing, and continuing my music career while in school.  Both paths are important to me, and in the years to come I hope I can use both to make a difference in the world.