Spotlight: Ashley Escamilla
Ashley Escamilla is currently a biology major at UCI pursuing her bachelor’s in that field. Her time at Fullerton College, experience with biotech workshops and research programs at UCI all have contributed to her success in the biotechnology field. Her journey has helped her be a great source of advice for students who want an idea of what being a biotechnology student is all about and how to successfully transfer over to university with an extensive knowledge of laboratory work.
Ashley went to La Habra High School and graduated in 2013. When she came to Fullerton College she did not know what she wanted to do. She decided to go through the STEM FYE (First Year Experience) to help her figure out what direction to go in. She credits the program in helping her meet professors in STEM and for exposing her to presentations by professors about their research. This sparked an interest in Ashley which later helped her decide on becoming a biology major. Ashley became involved with Dr. Wu’s biotech workshops as a teacher’s assistant. In these workshops, she was able to learn lab skills that are performed in laboratories in industry and academia. These skills proved crucial for Ashley because it helped her be more marketable to internship opportunities. With the help of STEM FYE and the biotech workshops, she was able to confidently apply to the UCI Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program. This program allowed entry level students, with little laboratory experience, to conduct undergraduate research in axon regeneration after a spinal cord injury. She worked mainly on histology for the lab she was in. Students were able to look at how their stains were working and if they were able to see ay regeneration under the microscope. Ashley presented this research at a conference and gained valuable experience in communicating weeks of research to a group of faculty and colleagues.
Ashley’s advice to new students coming into the biotechnology field is to be proactive about figuring out what you want to do and once you decide then go for it! Determination and perseverance are important to success. She believes sitting back and waiting for opportunities to arise is not a productive way of pursuing your goals. One must go out and find opportunities, like the biotech workshops or a research program through a university. She wants students to know that taking multiple courses, especially science courses, can be challenging to balance. With great time management skills and organization, students can succeed even with a packed schedule. Ashley is one of many successful students that are on their way to making a difference in biotechnology.