In high school, Averie Ashley, a December 2022 Newman University graduate, had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala with a small group of Spanish students and a teacher. While there, they conducted service work in underserved, indigenous communities.
“Considering that 50% of the population lives in severe poverty in Guatemala, it was an eye-opening experience to the privilege I grew up with,” Ashley said. “Upon return, I noticed that many of my friends, or my friends’ parents, did not have access to basic health care, whether that be due to finances, language barriers or citizenship status. This ignited a new passion within me: to serve those who are underserved.”
That passion, coupled with her desire to work in the medical field, led the Wichita High School East International Baccalaureate program graduate to attend Newman University to pursue a degree in biology with a pre-medicine concentration and Spanish minor.
While a student, Ashley was also a member of the Honors Program, served as a soccer manager for the women’s soccer team, sat on the executive board for the Hispanic American Leadership Organization, was part of the Diversity Round Table, and participated in the President’s Student Cabinet to exchange ideas of campus improvement with executive members of the university.
Recently, in recognition of her contributions to the Honors Program, Ashley received the Margaret Di Silvestro Award.
“This award serves as recognition toward the massive efforts put forth by students to make the Newman and Wichita communities a better place,” she said. “Having won this award enforces that the actions I have taken are making a difference. I am inspired to continue in my endeavors of leaving a positive impact on the communities around me.”
One stand-out memory from Ashley’s time in the Honors Program was a semester-long research project on Huntington’s Disease with fellow Honors students Daniel Knolla (‘22), Nick Vasilescu (‘23) and Kenny Le (‘23).
“Collaborating with the team at the Hereditary Neurological Disease Center, we delved deeper into the causes of the disease, as well as studied the effects of drugs in treating the symptoms,” she said. “This research project fulfilled my passion for genetics and continues to influence me in pursuing a career as a neurologist, geared toward treating patients with hereditary neurological diseases.”
Next up for Ashley is medical school at the UAG School of Medicine in Mexico.
“I am ecstatic to jump into the field of medicine,” she said. “Many years of education have led up to this moment, and I am beyond excited to learn how to provide care to individuals in need. I have a love for learning and am overly excited to gain more knowledge in the field.”
Ashley would like eventually to open a low-income-based clinic to provide health care to those who do not have adequate access.
“I hope to serve as part of Doctors Without Borders in the future to not only serve those who need it but also learn more about the world around me,” she said. “Furthermore, I hope to provide health care to Spanish-speaking patients without the use of an interpreter to enhance the connections made between provider and patient.”
She added, “I am extraordinarily grateful for my time at Newman University as it provided me with the academic groundwork I will need for a successful future in medicine. Aside from academics, Newman allowed me to grow as a leader and advocate laying the foundation for my goals as a physician.”
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