Ashley Gentile '13 at Espoir D'Enfants Orphanage in Croix des Bouqets, Haiti.
Mar 27, 2014
Ashley Gentile ’13 is living proof that passion and preparation can take you anywhere. Last spring, she was accepted into the highly selective Oncology Nurse Practitioner program at Duke University—one of the only ones in the nation. Despite the prestigious nature of the program, Ashley is ultimately more excited about what comes after she crosses the stage next spring: contributing to the global health community.
“I think global health has really struck a chord on my heart strings. The more I am exposed to the field, the deeper my love grows for helping those in worse situations, especially in the case of global cancer care,” she said.
As an undergraduate student, Ashley took every chance she could to involve herself with the FSC nursing program and greater medical community. The Jenkins scholar worked as a nursing aide at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, served as vice president for the Florida Student Nurses Association, and was one of only 20 people selected for an internship at the Moffitt Cancer Center. She was also a member of Sigma Theta Tau nursing honor society, Phi Eta Sigma freshman honor society, and contributed over 100 hours of community service to Habitat for Humanity. Despite her own achievements, Ashley credits the FSC nursing program with much of her success.
“FSC definitely gave me the foundation that I needed to succeed here at Duke. I passed my nursing boards with flying colors. The clinical experience and hands-on classes taught me how to be comfortable in any professional setting,” she said.
During her final year at FSC, Ashley went on a mission trip to Haiti and witnessed the tragedy of inadequate medical care first-hand. She worked at an orphanage just outside of Port-Au-Prince, an area still in ruins from the catastrophic 2010 earthquake. The experience opened Ashley’s eyes to the abundance of unnecessary suffering in other nations. Nearly all of the Haitians were malnourished or in need of antibiotics; only the rich could afford proper medical care.
“From the moment I arrived in Haiti, I knew that with my nursing degree, I had to make a difference for the people suffering substandard treatment not only back home, but also people suffering around the world,” said Ashley. “It is incomprehensible and unacceptable that money is often the main factor that determines if a human being receives medical attention.”
At Duke, Ashley continues to bring the same focus and compassion towards global cancer care. She has conducted research on implementing low cost cervical cancer screenings for impoverished nations, which she plans on submitting to the Duke Journal of Clinical Oncology. In addition, she works with the Honduras interdisciplinary team, an organization which works to bring medical aid to those who cannot afford it. Later this month Ashley will make a medical trip to the Honduras with fellow Duke medical students.
“It should be a great experience,” she said. “I have a really big interest in global health and would love to eventually pursue a career in this field.”
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