5 Questions for Ashley Strusz
Ashley Strusz is the VISTA leader for the 2016-17 College Health Corps. She has a B.S. in Public Health from St. Catherine University and served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Illinois Campus Compact in Rockford, IL. During her VISTA leader term she will attend St. Catherine University part-time for a Master’s of Public Health degree. To learn more about Ashley, keep reading!
1) What about your college and/or grad school experience influenced where you are today?
During my undergrad I took a month-long study abroad course called Social Determinants of Health in the Caribbean. We travel to the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba. Within each of these countries we visited government facilities, hospitals and clinics, and multiple non-profit or community organizations. By the end of the trip we compared and contrasted each country’s history, government, and health systems to understand the level of health or access to health in each country. This trip influenced my thinking on access to health on the global and community scale. With Health Corps I am able to assist and support the VISTA’s working towards access to health care for people in our communities.
2) What do you wish you’d known or done while a student?
When I first started college, my main motto was to “get involved”. That carried me through my four years of college. I was a Resident Advisor, active on Student Senate, volunteered outside of college and was taking a full course load. Through these experiences I became really connected with the University and was able to participate in many of the events, programs, and activities that were planned. Looking back I enjoyed staying busy and being an active member of my University. I wouldn’t change a thing.
3) What is the most exciting aspect of your service?
I am most excited to get to know the VISTA’s working around the state. I am interested in learning who they are, what backgrounds and experiences they bring to the position, and what some of their hopes and goals are for their VISTA position.
4) What book should everybody read, and why?
The book that consistently influences my life is Haiti: The God of Tough Places, the Lord of Burnt Men. This is a book that I read while on my trip to Haiti (as mentioned above). It is about the life of the Haitian people after the 2010 earthquake. It also gives personal narratives from volunteers who are still working down in Haiti. This book consistently reminds me that while my life may seem difficult and challenging, it can also be filled with beauty and strength.
5) Who or what is inspiring you these days?
I am inspired by many things that individuals do, but I am truly inspired by the work of nonprofit organizations such as the St. Luke’s Foundation in Haiti. Working in the Public Health arena, I have learned and visited many non-profit organizations in the Caribbean and here in Minnesota as well. I find that the work they do inspires me and drives me to help and assist in any way I can.