Maryville College student recognized with Senate resolution

Some of you may remember Betty Asha’s story of refusing to become a child bride in her country of South Sudan, which led to torture and exile by her tribal leader.
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 8:50 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A Maryville College junior’s story and hard work led to a group of Tennessee lawmakers giving her not one, but two standing ovations as she was recognized with a resolution on the Senate floor.

Some of you may remember Betty Asha’s story of refusing to become a child bride in her country of South Sudan, which led to torture and exile by her tribal leader. She also shared with WVLT News her heroic work to move almost 2,300 South Sudanese people from war to safety in Uganda.

Asha worked as an intern during the Spring semester for Senator Raumesh Akbari of Memphis, T.N. Akari who presented her with the resolution, said Asha was unlike any intern she’s ever had.

“Usually members will honor their interns for their service in the legislature. I felt it was important for us to honor our intern Betty for her service before the legislature, and so we presented it to her on the Senate floor which is unusual, but she’s just so worthy of that honor and her family was able to be there and folks from Maryville college were able to be there and I just thought that it was an amazing way to recognize and let everyone know just how awesome Betty is,” said Akbari.

Asha said she was still soaking in the surprise honor.

“It actually made me feel more motivated. I feel more appreciated, and I feel more loved. I just feel that all that I’ve gone through is paying me off. It actually reminds me that the decisions I made thinking differently and looking at things in a different perspective were not a mistake,” shared Asha.

As for what Asha wanted to do next, she’s still trying to figure it all out. But she knew she wanted to continue her education and give back to others.

”I am actually pursuing something that would give me that sense of service. If being an ambassador or going back to my country and work for the government or sitting in the Senate. Like becoming a Senator or a Governor whatever God has for me I still have no idea but I still just doing the right thing,” said Asha.

Aside from her big achievements and honors, Asha said she and her adoptive parents here in Tennessee have launched a non-profit that is currently taking care of four kids back in South Sudan, helping them gain a new beginning like she once did.

Asha said in the future they hope to help educate more kids from her country, specifically young girls.

“Those young girls are inspired by what they keep hearing about me and they wished to be just like myself. I keep hearing this ‘I want to stay in school so that I can become like Betty’. Their parents and guidances are now allowing those girls to stay in school and not be forced into child marriages so that when they get educated just like Betty did, their girls will be able to do the things that Betty is doing. Saving thousands of lives, feeding hundreds of families during the Pandemic, driving her own car, and traveling to places like the USA,” shared Asha.

Asha also shared how she did not realize how impactful her journey has been for people living in her country.

“I did not realize how my story is becoming a game-changer for both the girls and their parents who believed their whole life in trading their daughters just like cattle. I feel complied and obligated to go back to my country and be a living example and hope for my people. Of course, we can not help everyone but we can together help a handful. The transformation chain will build itself,” said Asha.

Copyright 2022 WVLT. All rights reserved.