Ashley Smith is a fourth-year psychophysiology major with a pre-medicine emphasis at Lindsey Wilson College, with a secondary major in biology and a minor in chemistry. She recently changed her emphasis from pre-veterinary science to pre-medicine, based on her experiences serving with a local crisis resource center last summer. Through working directly with clients at the resource center, Ashley saw how poverty, lack of education, and poor health create a cycle that can seem impossible to break out of, and she wants to use her future career as a medical professional to advocate for stronger rural health services, including education about health. In addition to her regular service with the crisis resource center, Ashley also plans to conduct community-based research in the coming year in order to explore actions that can be taken to improve rural health and health education in our community.
While I have served in poverty reduction for many years, it is only within the past year that I have started to make connections between poverty and health. While completing my Bonner Summer of Service at J.O.Y Ministries Crisis Resource Center this summer, I gained the opportunity to immerse myself in day-to-day operations, including distributing food and clothing while interacting with clients. I began to fully grasp the issue of food insecurity and poverty, and the role that health plays. I saw firsthand the cycle of how poor health could lead to unemployment and poverty, and poverty could lead to poor health. I changed my career choice from veterinarian to physician, as my service experiences fueled the realization that I wanted to connect my service with and be an advocate for people in need. The root causes of poverty, poor health, and a lack of health education are all connected, building a system that is difficult for most to escape. In order to combat this issue, I plan on performing community-based research to gather data that reveals the underlying causes of systemic poverty. I hope to do my part in creating a healthier community, both physically and financially.