Monday, September 28, 2015

Student Profile: Ashley Cheff (Political Science, 2016)

Political Science major, Ashley Cheff, has received much well-deserved attention for her accomplishments as a student athlete, (Buffalo News Story).  Indeed, Ashley will be the first to tell you how she has learned to apply the discipline she learned in sports to her studies.

“Just like you make plans with your friends around practice you should make those same plans around study time. Just like you set a goal for a race or a game you should set a goal for the next test or paper you have. Just like you wouldn’t show up to practice without your gear you don’t turn in an assignment that hasn’t properly been prepared. Just like you wouldn’t quit because of a bad game or race you don’t give up because you’re struggling in the classroom. Just like you ask your coach for help, when you want to master a skill you work with your professors and ask them questions too. You create the balance by putting in the same effort, time, and dedication to everything you do, whether it be the game you love or the paper you write.” 

Ashley is indeed a master of time management and strategic planning.  As Ashley’s academic advisor, I vividly remember meeting her meeting her for the first time. Rarely do freshman arrive for that first session with a proposed plan of action and such a clear-headed description of what they wish to accomplish in college and in life. 

Ashley writes that she “learned very quickly that setting goals is one thing, but achieving them is another and to make that achievement possible you have to work hard.” Fidelity to those goals and a willingness to work hard has guided her all throughout her time at Daemen. Just three short years later, Ashley is well on the way to making the next of her goals a reality.  

Ashley is incredibly modest about her undergraduate academic accomplishments. She has maintained a 4.0 grade point average and was named one of Top 10 freshman – an honor given to freshmen who earned the top grade point average in their freshman year.  Ashley has thus far excelled in every subject, in large part due to her dedication to putting in her best effort, but also due her mature approach to the value of learning: “I know I won’t get every question right, I won’t get a perfect score on every test or an A on every paper, but if I work hard and regularly set goals for myself something great can and will come out of it.” As one of her senior thesis advisors, I can attest that Ashley is every bit as “coachable” in the classroom as she is on the field: she shows up with a good attitude, asks for honest feedback, learns from constructive criticism, and applies what she learns to the next experience.  

There is a passion beyond athletics which guides Ashley: her compassion and advocacy for those with mental illness and mental disabilities. Ashley has developed her expertise in this area by adding a Philosophy minor to her Pre Law minor. In so doing, she has worked closely with Dr. Serife Tekin, an expert on the philosophy of psychiatry and Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion. Under Dr. Tekin’s guidance, Ashley recently presented a paper on the “Ethical Implications of Inconclusive Research on Schizophrenia” at the 29th annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) held at Eastern Washington University. Their collaboration has resulted in an acceptance for publication and the promise of more scholarly research to come. Ashley’s senior thesis project, a requirement of her Political Science major, is also a study of mental health care policy, examining the legal definition of danger in a cross-state comparison of involuntary civil commitment laws. The expertise which Ashley is building through her choice of academic major and minors will serve as a foundation for her intended career as a mental health law professional. 

“It’s not out of the ordinary for people to ask me how I balance being an athlete and a student and I always find this question so difficult to answer,” Ashley noted. Perhaps this is because Ashley has an almost superhuman knack for making the impossible seem easy. She is the personification of dedication as both a scholar and an athlete.   

~Dr. Lisa K. Parshall    

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