November is Native American History Month. We’re highlighting one of our Southern Nuclear employees who identifies as Native American.
Employee: Ashleigh Roland Wesley, senior engineer, Maintenance, Vogtle 1&2
What is your Native American background?
My paternal grandfather was a full-blooded Creek Indian. I am a tribal member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians of Atmore, Ala.
How has your background influenced you and/or your family?
Similar to a tribal environment, our family is very close and looks after each other. We have a deep respect for our elders and feel an obligation to take care of them as well. I also have a great love of the outdoors and feel very connected to the land and animals. Due to the struggles on both sides of my family, I have always been driven to be the best that I can possibly be. We are working to instill these traits in our son despite the fact that he’s a teenager!
What does your Native American heritage mean to you?
I am very proud of my Creek Indian heritage and how much progress the tribe has made over the years. Our tribe has managed to stay together keeping cultural traditions while working politically to improve conditions for our tribal members. When my grandfather was drafted, his last name was misspelled to Roland (from Rolin). To reconnect to our heritage and keep a matrilineal association, we selected Rolin as the middle name for our son.
How do you recognize or celebrate your heritage?
Poarch Creek has an Annual Thanksgiving Day Pow Wow that we enjoy attending every few years. I also love attending local and regional Pow Wows whenever they come near Augusta, Ga. The drum beat inspires movement in even the most introverted individuals.
How did you end up at Southern Nuclear?
My grandfather was drafted into World War II in 1942 and became a medic in a MASH unit. After moving around the world in the Army with his young family, he ended up in Augusta working at the Army hospital (Oliver General Hospital). As such, my father grew up in Augusta and met my mother after serving in the Vietnam War. I was raised in Augusta and went to college at Georgia Tech. To help pay for college and get experience, I started working as a cooperative student at Plant Vogtle, commuting from my parents’ house to save money. I hired on as an engineer upon graduation from Georgia Tech and have been working at Vogtle for 23 years (including my co-op time).