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Black in STEM


Ashley Bolds.

Ashley Bolds


Major and Degree Pursued: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, B.S.

Prospective Graduation Year: 2023

Current Position: Undergraduate Researcher, Keller Lab (Penn State), Rothwell Lab (University of Minnesota Medical School), Javitch Lab (Columbia University Medical Center); Trained Mental Health Counselor, Centre Helps

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What motivates you to do/pursue science and/or medicine?

What motivates me to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. is being able to represent minorities in the research and medical fields. Amy Freeman, the director of the Penn State Millennium Scholars Program, was the first person that I had met with a Ph.D. What made the mentorship extremely special was that she was an African American female at the top of her field in STEM. While I had always been interested in medicine, seeing that representation pushed me to pursue research. Since then, I have joined neuroscience research labs at Penn State, the University of Minnesota Medical School, and Columbia University Medical Center. I also became a trained mental health counselor at Centre Helps to help those in crisis and challenge the stigma against mental health in communities of color. Being the representation for future generations motivates me to pursue medicine and science, despite being the first person in my family to graduate from a four-year university.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

To me, Black History Month is not just about history; it is a time to appreciate the contributions to science, music, art, sports, and everyday American culture from African Americans since the U.S. came to be. When I think about Black History Month, it reminds me of the joy I felt during February when I was a child. Learning about all the amazing contributions Black people have made along with the triumphs, struggles, and risks that were taken makes me proud to be African American. Black History Month is about resilience and recognition, and while there is still some work to be done, having a month to celebrate the culture is so important.