What brought you to UALR and Little Rock?
My name is Ashley Fejleh, and my major is environmental health sciences with a minor in biology. I’m taking courses to guide me to attend medical school, in addition to my major and minor.
Well originally I’m from Rogers, Arkansas and I went to Rogers high school, graduated from there. I got recruited to come play volleyball at UALR. And that’s what brought me here, initially. I came here, practiced with the team, loved the atmosphere, loved the Stephens Center, toured the city, and really thought it was wonderful. And in addition to that, I had an opportunity to be on the track team. The opportunities that brought me to UALR were athletics.
What other factors motivated you to enroll, and stay at UALR even after your sports injury?
Two things really kept me on campus after my knee surgery, instead of transferring. For one, I was accepted into the Donaghey Scholars program directed by dr. Ramsey. And it really helped me shift gears from being an athlete to truly being immersed in an academic environment and as a scholar I’ve been exposed to unique interdisciplinary course framework that I wouldn’t have gotten if I wouldn’t have been in the Donaghey Scholars program.
I’ll actually be given the opportunity to study abroad this summer in Spain or Mexico as part of the program’s package. Another thing that I love about the Donaghey Scholars program that kept me at UALR and made me decide to stay, was that there’s sort of a unity that you see amongst the UALR Donaghey Scholars faculty and the scholars. And I really admire that and it was an honors program that I wanted to be a part of.
The other thing that kept me at UALR was a chance to take part in some cutting-edge cancer and biomedical research in the UALR nanotechnology center. With the help of Dr. Alex Biris and the group of other leading researchers that I have the chance to work with, I’ve been able to use the nanotechnology center to investigate new state-of-the art cancer treatment methods that I wouldn’t be able to do at any other research institute in the state.
Even though I started without any lab experience, any prior knowledge, Dr. Biris once told me that all I needed was the motivation, dedication and a desire to learn, and with a step-dad battling prostate cancer right now, I had all of those. So I was really able to flourish in that environment.
So, nowhere but UALR has the honors program and the research institute, quite like the ones I’m able to be involved with here. So why would I leave is the real question.
Did you feel like your new scholarship and your research were reason enough to stay in Little Rock?
It was that and also, I’m seeking to become a physician, and coming to Little Rock, I had so many more opportunities, because I’m so close to UAMS, the medical school that I hope to attend. As you know, several different hospitals, Arkansas Children’s, UAMS, Baptist, and I’ve you know, had no choice but to take advantage of those opportunities here. I’m a volunteer at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and I do that on the weekends. I thought about that; I contemplated where I wanted to go. I could have gone anywhere in Arkansas and I chose Little Rock.
Did you have any initial concerns about moving to Little Rock?
Well initially, whenever I came here, I was kind of intimidated because it was a larger city, the roads might have been confusing for me, I was afraid of getting lost in the city being here all by myself. So, that was an initial concern for me. And of course the safety- being in a larger city than Rogers, Arkansas. But whenever I got here, I realized that Little Rock is a city, and it’s the capital city with a larger population that what I was used to, but at the same time it’s small enough and connected enough to where I felt comfortable. And I was taking a step up by being in the capital city, getting more opportunities in that way. But at the same time, you’re surrounded by nature. It’s a beautiful city.
How does social life fit in with your studies? And what have you noticed in others?
I think it’s up to the individual. It’s up to your personality, because if you want a more social environment, it’s there. There’s Greek life, there’s sororities, fraternities, there’s the dorms, there’s on-campus apartments. And if you want to reside in those you can, and get more of a social interaction at UALR.
But there’s also another route you can take where you can live off campus. You can live anywhere in Little Rock and commute to UALR. You know, lead your own life and engage in the social interaction that you want to. In the night classes that I have, I take classes with people from all different backgrounds. They work full-time jobs during the day, and they’re completing their degree right now. It’s pretty neat to see those people in class because it gives you an extra boost of motivation to know that you can juggle things and still be a student at UALR because I guess, because of how the courses are set up.
What kind of activities have you enjoyed, on campus and off?
I ride a road bike, and I cycle with friends and family. My brother’s actually here. We research together in the nanotechnology center. So I played sports for the first two years that I was here. I played volleyball. I was the defensive specialist for the Lady Trojans. I had some major knee problems. I had to have two knee surgeries, pretty invasive surgeries. They completely changed the anatomy of my leg. So after I had my knee surgeries, I decided that I would just kinda pursue my academic career, and hang up my volleyball shoes and my track shoes. I threw the javelin for the track team and I high-jumped my first year with the track team. So I’ve done at lot at UALR.
There’s just so many opportunities available to students that if you want to succeed, you will. Because it’s just so accessible, there’s professors, and everybody’s so pleasant around here. I haven’t had a bad experience with a single one.