By: Ixchel Urbano, SDSU Chapter Member
Meet Ashley Clark, the Treasurer at the San Diego State Chapter of WSS and Media Specialist at Nationals! Ashley is a fourth year Kinesiology student with a minor in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. Her career goal is to become a Physical Therapist, and from there she wants to specialize in Neurorehabilitation! Ashley’s career goal was inspired by personal observations she made throughout her life and she is now turning her love for science into a career where she will help many people.
In studying kinesiology, Ashley has found that there are not many clinics that focus on neurorehabilitation patients and cater to their specific needs. In many cases patients that have neurological conditions are going to need physical therapy for most of their lives, but the traditional physical therapy clinic is focused on sports medicine. Ashley’s story and passion for this field is different from the typical injured athlete finding physical therapy because it helped them when they were hurt. Ashley discovered the power of physical therapy through observing others utilizing various exercises and techniques to help them. In 2017, Ashley’s grandmother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive brain disorder that leads to shaking and stiffness during activity. Watching her and what she is going through for years is what drives Ashley to help people like her, that want to continue their lives and be as mobile as they possibly can when dealing with their limitations.
Ashley’s passion led to her pursuing higher education and becoming the kinesiology student she is today at San Diego State. Ashley joined WSS in the spring semester of her freshman year. She was not very involved on campus that year and felt at her school everyone made their friends through sororities on campus. Ashley was not personally drawn to the sororities on campus, but she wanted to make more friends and connections to her campus and she regards joining WSS as the best thing she ever did! Soon after joining her Chapter of WSS, she became more involved with the organization and started to work with the founder at the National level of Women in Science Society, and eventually went on to become the treasurer of the SDSU Chapter!
WSS has become more than just an organization on campus to Ashley over the years. WSS has shown her what true passion and drive looks like. Being a woman driven to pursue any STEM career is a constant push against what seems like impossible odds. Ashley’s last four years at SDSU have not only been manageable, but enjoyable because of the amazing women in this organization. She no longer views herself as someone that is trying to beat the “leaky pipeline” because of her gender, but rather as someone that has the potential to leave a lasting impact on the community around her. The women that surround her in the organization have shown her the power of true dedication and have transformed her into who she is today. Ashley could easily say that this organization is going to be what she misses the most after she graduates. WSS has been a safe place for her to grow in college, it has given her a community of like minded people that all support each other through the thick of college. Ashley hopes that WSS continues to grow and impact lives, as it did to hers, because what was started at San Diego State has so much potential for success!
Outside of WSS, Ashley has been able to study internationally and gain true world experience through seeing how people in other countries live. In the summer or 2019, she studied abroad in Peru with one of her best friends and study buddy that she met through WSS! While in Peru, they visited villages to help an organization build cookstoves in the homes of the community. These cookstoves were designed to help smoke escape the kitchens, so that the cooks were not inhaling all the smoke and ash while cooking. This was a truly life changing moment for Ashley because she could see the joy she was bringing to the people in these communities for something that is often taken for granted in the US. Ashley and her friend also went to the health clinic that was set up in the village and observed how their health practitioners practiced. Seeing what it was like to receive healthcare or practice in these areas of the world really makes one value the everyday things in life. The Peruvian people were all welcoming and happy, regardless of how little they had, which is one of the biggest things Ashley learned abroad. Experiences are what make her truly happy.
In December of 2020, Ashley was able to visit another country and have a different international experience when her grandparents took her older sister and her to India! In India, Ashley and her sister were able to see where they came from, and experience the culture and family first hand. Ashley has always admired her grandparents and their generosity, but this was the moment she saw that their selflessness has made so many people's lives better. Ashley visited her grandparent’s villages with them, and nearly 55 year after they left, people still recognized them from afar and ran up to greet them. Ashley hopes to one day be able to help as many people as her grandparents have, and give back to the community just like them!
The best advice Ashley has to offer her WSS community is that if you are truly passionate about something, go for it! Regardless of what other people tell you, go for it because you will succeed. After graduation, Ashley plans to work as a Physical Therapist aid for a year as she applies for Doctoral programs for Physical Therapy. Ashley says she will miss WSS the most after she graduates, and WSS hopes she knows she will be greatly missed by everyone in the organization. Best of luck to Ashley and WSS looks forward to seeing all the lives she will impact as a Physical Therapist!