Ayshia Connors has always stood out from the crowd. She’s an African-American woman from a state—Utah—whose population is one percent black. But Connors has stood out in her tenacity and drive. At just 24, Connors has already helped the Republican National Committee with African American outreach, working for Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.), Sen. Tim Scott (D-S.C.). She also co-founded Young Professionals for Rand Paul. She now works as a legislative assistant with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and helped organize President Trump’s Presidential Inauguration Committee.
“I’ve been afforded the opportunities that I enjoy in my life simply because of the hard work that I have vested in myself and my craft,” Connors told Opportunity Lives. “Unfortunately, society has come to a place where they feel the need to ask such questions when talking with black Republicans because of an ongoing stigma that states blacks aren’t supposed to be Republican.”
Connors attended Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) while she was in high school, a charter school that offered a dual enrollment program. That allowed her to graduate with an associate’s degree and a high school diploma simultaneously. While in high school visiting college campuses across the country, Connors said she was looking for a school that offered “the whole package and Arizona State was it.”
After completing her studies at Arizona State, graduating with both a B.S. in political science and a B.A. in corporate communications, Connors headed to Washington, D.C., where she has lived for three years.
“I came to D.C. because I have always had a strong passion for public service and what better place to serve than Washington, D.C.,” Connors said.
“I have always wanted to be in a position where I could give back to my community,” she explained. “I knew that working on Capitol Hill was the place to be if I wanted to make a lasting impact.”
As a young African-American Republican woman, Connors broke through the statistics and aligned with the conservative movement.
“What drew me to the Republican Party first and foremost is my faith,” Connors said. “The only party that most closely aligns with the principles of God and my faith is the Republican Party.”
She says working for the RNC was a humbling experience but she takes great pride in having the opportunity to do so. “I certainly gained a deeper understanding as to how vital the RNC’s intricate role it plays in promoting the ideals of the Republican Party,” she said. “My connections and experiences during my time at the RNC led to a great opportunity with the Presidential Inauguration Committee.”
Even though just eight percent of African-American voters chose Donald Trump in 2016, Connors was proud to be among that group. Since 2014, she has been president of the Black Republican Staff Association.
“There are several things that attracted me to President Trump’s message, but the main points that intrigued me were his beliefs in the urgent need to secure our borders and protect our homeland, his prioritization of job creation for Americans, and his ability to be an effective leader,” Connors said.
As a legislative assistant for Rep. Fitzpatrick, Connors helps with a diverse portfolio of policy issues, from agriculture and defense and homeland security to energy and the environment, transportation, science and technology.
“I am honored to be working for a member like Rep. Fitzpatrick,” Connors said. “His bipartisan and independent approach to critical issues is something that we need to see more of in Congress and I think he is a natural born leader.”
Besides her love of politics and public service, Connors is also mindful of encouraging racial minorities to enter the fields of business and technology.
“Unfortunately, there has been very little done to assist minorities to prepare and explore opportunities in these industries,” Connors said. “We can encourage these communities by creating pipelines with businesses and individuals with the financial means to develop local incubators.”
But for now, Connors said she plans to continue to further her work in public service throughout her life.
“God blessed me with a heart to care for people,” Connors said. “I have the greatest honor of doing so by way of ensuring that government works for the people.”
To youth who are trying to find their way, Connors is optimistic and encouraging.
“My advice is quite simple, follow your heart!” Connors said. “God graces each one of our lives with an appointed vision and destiny. It’s up to us, the individual to grab ahold to such a vision and embrace it. Always be a doer in life. Don’t sit around and talk about it. Just be about it. That is the difference between mediocre and great, wealthy and just getting by, a scholar or just average.”
This article was originally published on OpportunityLives.com.
Carrie Sheffield is the founder of Bold. She is passionate about storytelling to empower and connect others. A founding POLITICO reporter, Carrie contributed on political economy at Forbes and wrote editorials for The Washington Times. After earning a master’s in public policy from Harvard University, she managed credit risk at Goldman Sachs and researched for American Enterprise Institute scholar Edward Conard. She earned a B.A. in communications at Brigham Young University and completed a Fulbright fellowship in Berlin.