Ashley Kyalwazi, a senior Neuroscience major with a Science, Technology, and Values minor, chose her academic path because of time spent in various communities learning about developmental disabilities and mental illness.
At Notre Dame, Ashley has spent time engaging with different communities, learning more about the clinical and psychosocial models that exist to support individuals in these populations. She said, “I look forward to continuing my studies, particularly focusing on how individuals living with mental illness and developmental disabilities in under-resourced communities can obtain the necessary treatment and external support systems to aid in their recovery.”
Valuable research experiences at the Indiana University School of Medicine in South Bend, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, NY, and the John Hopkins University School of Medicine enabled Ashley to further pursue these interests. She spent last summer working in the lab of Dr. Solange P. Brown in the Department of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins. There, she used surgical and neuroimaging techniques to study the organization of circuits in the mammalian neocortex, and how disruption to particular circuits plays a role in neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disease.
Ashley is also passionate about working to provide individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds with opportunities to obtain their goals. During her sophomore year, Ashley founded the first chapter of Matriculate Advising Fellows at Notre Dame to help talented high school students from low-income backgrounds navigate the college application process. She is also the youngest member on the Executive Board for the Clubhouse of Saint Joseph County, which provides individuals with mental illness with a supportive community through which they can develop a variety of skills through educational and work opportunities. Ashley said, “I am excited to learn more about how I can continue to use my personal background and skills to support individuals living in underserved communities.”
Outside of the classroom, Ashley is a member on the Notre Dame women’s club soccer team, is a Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholar and a Notre Dame Balfour Hesburgh Scholar, and plays piano in the jazz improvisation group on campus. After graduation, she plans to enter medical school with the goal of helping individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses attain greater access to affordable and holistic healthcare. Ashley said, “I have greatly enjoyed my time here at Notre Dame and am grateful for the support I have obtained from my mentors, professors, and friends.”