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Sophomore Blair Ashley Named Goldwater Scholar

Blair AshleyA sophomore majoring in Kinesiology and Neuroscience, Blair S. Ashley was one of three William and Mary students to receive a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship for the coming year.

The scholarships, valued at up to $7,500 a year for up to two years, were awarded to 323 undergraduate students nationwide who are studying mathematics, science or engineering.

Ashley leaned toward attending William and Mary from the beginning because of its moderate size and its student-to-faculty ratio. She particularly was impressed by the acceptance rate of its graduates into medical schools-three times the national average. Now, as a campus tour guide, she routinely is asked by prospective students and their parents whether the strength of the science programs suffers because the College is viewed as a liberal-arts institution. "I justify that by the recent accomplishments of scientists here," she said. "I tell them, 'The principal investigators, who also serve as our professors, have a lot of national and private support behind them. They are being published in major journals. They are a hidden gem on campus."

Her research experience only solidifies the claims she makes as a guide. She has worked in the laboratory with Robin Looft-Wilson, assistant professor of kinesiology, studying vascular physiology, and has taken three successive classes with Shreiber as she concentrates on "the interface between mathematics and biology." Not only have the professors worked with her individually, she has helped bring them together. "Professors here are very eager to learn from each other and to collaborate on each other's projects," she said. "The three of us are keeping an open dialogue."

Ashley serves as a waitress at a local restaurant, which enables her to "develop another friend base," she said. When possible, she participates in club basketball games. She also finds that serving as a tour guide tends to be mildly therapeutic. "It provides a nice reminder of why I came here and why I love William and Mary so much," she said.