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Ashley Grospitch, a senior with the University of Kentucky's College of Public Health (CPH), has distinguished herself through significant achievements and a strong commitment to public health advocacy. She has been awarded the Maurice A. Clay Award, one of the university's most prestigious honors for graduating seniors, recognizing students who excel in leadership, service, and academics, embodying the spirit of Dr. Maurice A. Clay.

Ashley also earned the Outstanding Service Award, acknowledging her exceptional contributions to Kentucky communities through applied public health efforts, including communication, collaboration, and advocacy. Ashley was inducted into Delta Omega, the honorary society for graduate studies in public health, which recognizes excellence in public health practice, research, education, and academic achievement.

Expressing her gratitude for these recognitions, Ashley said, "I could not be more thankful for all of the people along the way who believed in me and pushed me to where I am now—my parents and family, mentors, College of Public Health faculty and staff, and many more."


Journey to Public Health

A Lexington native, Ashley began her academic journey at the University of Kentucky (UK) studying engineering. However, during her sophomore year, she enrolled in CPH 201, an introductory public health course taught by Sarah Cprek, MPH, PhD, Director of CPH Undergraduate Studies. The class's optimistic approach to solving real-world problems through public health deeply resonated with Ashley and inspired her to consider a change.

In an email to Dr. Cprek, Ashley shared how the course influenced her to switch from engineering to public health. She wrote, "I took your CPH 201 class as an elective my sophomore year, and it was the entire reason I switched to public health from engineering. I identified so strongly with the mission and energy of public health that I knew it had to be my path."

The course's focus on creating positive change and addressing social determinants of health aligned with Ashley's own values and desire to make a meaningful impact on her community. This connection to the public health mission ultimately led her to change majors, and she flourished in her new field, exemplifying the principles of leadership, service, and academic excellence.


Finding Leadership 

Ashley joined the Student Public Health Association (SPHA) during her sophomore year and became its Communications Chair her senior year. Her responsibilities included overseeing all aspects of social media, from creating content and managing accounts to interacting with the SPHA community. Ashley was also tasked with designing flyers, advertising events, and ensuring timely communication of relevant information.

Beyond these tasks, Ashley worked closely with the CPH’s Marketing and Communication team to ensure consistency in branding and messaging. This collaboration allowed her to align SPHA's communications with the college's broader objectives, enhancing the visibility and impact of the organization's initiatives.

Reflecting on her role, Ashley noted, "As the Communications Chair, I've learned from first-hand experience the importance of accurate and timely information, especially when it comes to public health. Through this position, I have had the opportunity to practice building a cohesive brand, work with multiple organizations to disseminate a message, connect with my audience, and more."


Looking Ahead

Ashley is excited about her future. "I am excited to embark on the next phase of my journey into the workforce while carrying with me these same integral values and experiences," she said.
Ashley is now set to begin a new role with the Center for Innovation in Population Health (IPH), where she will continue her research and contribute to the advancement of community health. Her position involves creating a student experiential learning program aimed at fostering cross-sector collaborations in health care. 

She will be coordinating efforts to screen patients within UK HealthCare for social needs, such as food security and transportation, to address barriers to health. "This role is incredibly exciting because I get to work on research projects with real-world applications,” she said. “It's an opportunity to make a tangible difference in public health, and that's what I've always wanted to do."

In addition to her new role at IPH, Ashley plans to pursue a master's degree in public administration, with a specific interest in health policy, program evaluation, budgeting, and policy analysis. She believes that this advanced training will be instrumental in achieving her career goals, stating, "With additional training in program evaluation, budgeting, and policy analysis, I feel confident I will be able to advocate and improve community health through research."

Ashley also aspires to become a faculty member, combining her interests in research and instruction. She envisions a career where she can conduct impactful research while also teaching and mentoring the next generation of public health professionals.