Originally from a small town in South Carolina, Ashton started out on the path of a professional musician before being seduced by the French classes required of her liberal arts education. Her senior recital was a study in French art song, and she thought that modern French poetry and song deserved her full attention. After studying abroad in Versailles she was convinced, and returned to France with TAPIF to soak up more of the language and culture, and then pursued her MA in French at the University of Colorado. With the guidance of brilliant faculty there she discovered the curiosities that the Middle Ages can offer, and the joys of studying Arabic, world religions, and transcontinental historiography, developing a keen interest particularly in al-Andalus, North Africa, and South Asia. During her three years combined in France and in Colorado she taught high schoolers, preschoolers, and college students, and could not tell you which age group she preferred, loving teaching in general as it reminds her of being on stage. Hoping to tie all of these interests together, she has come to UVa to work on the Medieval Mediterranean and learn from the spiritual and literary masters in order to better teach those who come afterwards.