A third-year medical student from OUWB has been awarded the 2021 Dr. Felecia Williams Aspiring Physicians Michigan Scholarship Award.

Third-year OUWB student nets $10K Aspiring Physicians Michigan Scholarship
010722 Ashley Williams
Ashley Williams, M3, OUWB

A third-year medical student from OUWB has been awarded the 2021 Dr. Felecia Williams Aspiring Physicians Michigan Scholarship Award.

Ashley Williams was selected to receive the $10,000 scholarship by the National Medical Fellowships, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing the number of underrepresented minority physicians and other professionals in the health care workforce.  

The annual scholarship is bestowed to a medical student who has demonstrated strong evidence of leadership and community service at the earliest stages of his or her professional career.

“I am really grateful to be selected for this scholarship because it highlights students who have made an outstanding contribution to the classroom as well as to the community and in leadership,” says Williams.

“It’s nice to be honored in all of those aspects because those are all things that I care about deeply.”

‘If I can do it, you can totally do it’

Ashley Williams grew up in Stafford, Va., and says she wanted to be a doctor from the age of four.

It was a feeling that solidified as Williams grew older and had five family members who died as a result of hemorrhagic strokes. Four of them were in Dominica, an island country in the Caribbean where there are no neurosurgeons or specialty care.

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“That showed me that it’s not only important to have developments in medicine…but also create accessibility for people who don’t always have access to health care systems,” says Williams.

Williams post-secondary education began with pursuit of an undergrad degree at the College of William & Mary. She later transferred to Howard University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and biological sciences.

Williams then did two years of research with the National Institutes of Health, primarily focused on neuroscience.

Throughout it all, giving back always has been important for Williams.

For a decade she was a troop leader for the Girl Scouts of the United States of America. That included leading a local Girls Scouts Beyond Bars program that relies on Girl Scout experiences to strengthen the bond between girls and their mothers, grandmothers, aunts or sisters during the adult’s incarceration. Williams says the program benefits many youths who live in inner city Baltimore.

“It was really fulfilling to be able to give back to girls who were just beautiful, beautiful people and never really had a chance to have access to social capital outside of where they grew up,” says Williams.

She recalls sharing the news with one of the younger girls that she had been accepted to medical school.

“I was like ‘If I can do it, you can totally do it’ and her eyes…she was just blown away,” says Williams.

Why OUWB

Williams says she was particularly drawn to OUWB after interviewing at the school and seeing that the school “cares a lot about developing doctors who are compassionate and have made serving the community and others part of their career.”

“I really loved that difference that I saw here…it was very moving,” she says.

Since she began at OUWB in 2019, Williams says she has also witnessed just how supportive the OUWB community can be with regard to sharing resources and opportunities as well as mentorship.

“We need to be more collaborative in medicine and I feel like OUWB is on the cutting edge of that,” she says.

Williams also took advantage of the many opportunities OUWB offers to get involved, including serving as a liaison for region five of the Student National Medical Association, which covers Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. That experience included leading a research conference for the region.

Williams also led efforts in 2021 to create on online version of the annual Health Fair at Chandler Park Academy in Harper Woods.

Looking ahead, Williams says she is interested in specializing in neurosurgery. With another year-and-a-half before she graduates, Williams says the scholarship she received will go a long way.

“I found out in October, in between lectures, and I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “It was just so phenomenal to be selected.”

Subsequent to learning she had was the recipient of a scholarship funded by Felecia Williams, M.D. — who is based in metro Detroit — Ashley Williams reached out to express her gratitude.

“I wanted to meet her in person and thank her for creating an opportunity for me that normally would not have happened,” she says. “I also wanted to ask her what kind of advice she had for someone at my stage of my career.”

One of the first pieces of advice Ashley says she received was to remember those she will one day be able to similarly help.

“She told me to use the scholarship to benefit me now, of course, but always make sure to pay it forward when I can,” she says.

Ashley says Felecia agreed to be her mentor for which she is extremely grateful for as well.

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at adietderich@oakland.edu

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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