Aeriel A. Ashlee is an Assistant Professor of College Counseling and Student Development at St. Cloud State University. When she was just shy of four-months-old, Aeriel (then Han Ae Seon) was adopted from Seoul, South Korea by a White American couple in Minnesota, USA. Growing up, Aeriel was acutely aware of her racial "otherness" in her predominantly White community. However, for much of her adolescence, Aeriel lacked the language to describe her racialized identity as a transracial adoptee. Her experiences navigating racial microaggressions, coping with internalized racism, and wrestling with the dissonance of her racial identity formation as a Person of Color raised in a White adoptive family are what informs her academic work today.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities School of Journalism and Mass Communication with a Bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communication, Aeriel earned her Master's degree in Counseling and College Student Personnel from the University of Maryland, College Park College of Education. Eager to support college Students of Color in their own racial identity journeys, Aeriel began working in the Center for Multicultural Equity & Access at Georgetown University. While there, she advised coalition building among Student of Color organizations, worked closely with diversity peer-educators, and created an award winning co-curricular intergroup dialogue program.
In 2011, Aeriel was invited to present about her racial justice work at an international higher education conference in Lugano, Switzerland. Serendipitously, at this conference Aeriel met her now husband, Kyle C. Ashlee. In 2012, the Ashlees relocated from Switzerland to New Hampshire, USA to begin working at Dartmouth College where Aeriel served as the Assistant Dean/Advisor to Pan Asian Students in the Office of Pluralism and Leadership. In this role, Aeriel focused on intra-Asian diversity, mental health and wellness for the Asian/Asian American community, and fostering Asian American student activism. In 2014, the Ashlees founded their own social justice consulting group focusing on racial justice and gender equity in education and nonprofit organizations.
Aeriel completed her Ph.D. at Miami University in the Department of Educational Leadership (EDL) in 2019. During her doctoral studies, Aeriel coordinated the recruitment and admissions process for the Student Affairs in Higher Education (SAHE) master's program and taught undergraduate and graduate-level courses in SAHE, EDL, and the Asian/Asian American Studies program. Aeriel's research interests include the racialized experiences of transracial Asian American adoptees in higher education, autoethnography as a transformative research methodology, womxn of color empowerment and critical consciousness in the academy, and critical and poststructural considerations of racial identity formation.