Tempe, AZ – Ashley Curiel, an Arizona State University graduate, is well along on her educational journey to become a surgeon and medical researcher, “My dream job is to be a surgeon, and work in the clinical research side of medicine more than patient care. But, I would also love to be a surgeon because I know that a lot of surgeons also do medical and clinical work in developing new or different surgical techniques and approaches.”
Ashley, age 22, graduated from ASU in May with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, and she explains how engineering can be a pathway to med school, “The reason I’m doing it this way is because nowadays a lot of medical schools are offering a PhD and MD program. This works well with my goal of becoming more of a medical scientist, which means that I will continue to focus on engineering and eventually merge into the medical field. To be a more competitive applicant for medical school I’ve decided to do graduate school before applying to medical school. So, in the fall I should begin working on my Master’s Degree in Engineering at Arizona State University.”
Meanwhile, Ashley was born in Mexico and raised in Los Angeles, California until her mid-teens when her family moved to Yuma, where she graduated from Kofa High School in 2012. Ashley says moving from Los Angeles to Yuma was a difficult transition, “It was really tough, and especially being a teenager at the time, I was really stubborn. But, thankfully my family was there to support me through that transition.”
For Ashley, college is where she discovered her career calling:
“I’ve always had an interest in the medical field but when I graduated from high school, the thought of being in school for the next ten years kind of scared me, and that’s why I decided to do engineering. And, it was during my undergraduate degree when I started doing research and realized that I really want to work in labs or do something that is research-related. I looked into the medical field by shadowing doctors, and that’s when I knew that working in medicine is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Ashley is among the hundreds of students from low income circumstances who have earned a scholarship from College Success Arizona, which provides up to six-thousand dollars per year for educational expenses, “It’s helped me tremendously. I so often hear from my classmates about how much money they must pay and how much their tuition is costing. So, just knowing that I graduated with very little debt is amazing and it’s a very good feeling. It’s a weight off my shoulders and something that not a lot of college grads experience. A lot of classmates of mine are hesitating about going to grad school because of all of the debt they incurred during their undergrad. So, having a scholarship that paid for my undergraduate degree really helped me by eliminating any doubts I had about attending graduate school.”
Students like Ashley also receive specialized mentoring services as part of their scholarship from College Success Arizona. Ashley says her Success Adviser, Matt Sotelo, was a big source of support, “Matt is very understanding and it helps as well that he attended ASU. So, any questions that I might have had – he was always really good at answering them, and he was also really good about reaching out to people that he knows, or leading me to the right path to find an answer. “
Middle and high school students considering their own college options may appreciate some advice and encouragement from someone living her goals, like Ashley, “I say ‘go for it.’ College is definitely going to help you out, and everything in today’s world is definitely changing and being well prepared and having a higher education will definitely help you achieve your goals.”
Ashely adds that seeing her family’s challenges impressed upon her the value of a higher education, “I saw the struggles my parents faced firsthand, being immigrants in this country. So, that was definitely a motivation for me to pursue higher education, and I want them to know that all of their hard work and sacrifice was worth it.
Since 2005, College Success Arizona has worked with nearly 1,300 students, and provided more than 16 million dollars in scholarships and success services to help increase the college attainment rate in Arizona. If you would like to be part of the mission of providing educational opportunity to high potential students from low income circumstances, your tax-deductible contribution can be made through the “Donate” button on the top of this page.