Ashton Green has been named one of four students in the first cohort of Health and Social Justice Scholars. Born in Indianapolis, Green was an athlete throughout high school and as an undergraduate student at Xavier University in Cincinnati. After graduating from Xavier in 2014, she dedicated the following year to serving the Indianapolis community. She established a junior youth spiritual empowerment group, with a vision to make a positive impact in the lives of young people within the community.
Green is a second-year student in the UofL School of Dentistry. UofL News had the chance to talk to her about her motivation and her goals.
UofL News: What motivated you to invest in health and social justice?
Ashton Green: I’ve always been very aware that the best way to be useful in society is to serve those around you. I have also always had an interest in the field of health care. In my initiative to address local health care disparities, I think my target area would deal primarily with cigarette smokers because in Kentucky smoking is a huge issue. Part of my motivation for choosing to focus on smoking also stems from my family. Some of my mother’s side of the family is from Kentucky and we have lost several relatives due to lung cancer and esophageal cancer. Smoking and diseases that stem from it are very personal to me and I want to come up with a resource that I feel the greater community can easily use and learn from. Hopefully this knowledge can contribute to cultural change. The impact might be small at first, but I feel that if you target one area you have the ability to focus on it and expand it to make greater change later.
UofL News: Explain one experience that drives you to make a difference.
Green: Upon first moving here I wasn’t quite aware of how intense the problem of smoking is. One time while walking home from school I passed by the hospital. As I walked by, I saw patients in hospital gowns and some carrying IV poles standing outside smoking cigarettes. As you can imagine, this was such a confusing sight, but in that moment I realized people must not be aware of how detrimental smoking actually is. I was definitely shocked that day. I remember calling my mom about it and saying, ‘You won’t believe what I just saw.’ That was pretty eye-opening.
UofL News: What would you like to accomplish as a Health and Social Justice Scholar?
Green: I want to create something that is sustainable long after I graduate. I have a few ideas I would like to speak with my mentor about and get the ball rolling. I definitely want to address smoking cessation and create a resource that will last long after I’m gone, because the point is to make permanent, positive change if you can. I have some ideas that I am really excited about.
Editor’s note: UofL News also had the opportunity to talk to Health and Social Justice Scholar Mallika Sabharwal. That story is available here.
About the Health and Social Justice Scholars program
Introduced in the spring of 2016, the Health and Social Justice Scholars Program engages professional students with local communities and faculty mentors to bring about changes to benefit underserved populations in the Louisville area. For more information, visit Health and Social Justice Scholars.