Where Are They Now? Ashley Kyalwazi ‘14
Alumna Ashley Kyalwazi ’14, who was the Student Body President her senior year, continues to be a shining example and representative of St. Francis High School. She recently stopped by the campus in between her graduation from the University of Notre Dame and enrollment in Harvard Medical School this fall.
“I had a great time as an undergraduate at Notre Dame,” said Kyalwazi. “Over the course of four years, I was blessed to meet amazing people from professors to my peers. I will miss my time at ND, but I am looking forward to beginning my medical school journey.”
Kyalwazi left Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience and Behavior with a minor in Science Technology and Values.
“Over the past several years, I have engaged in different communities, and observed disparities in access to affordable and meaningful avenues of support for individuals living with disabilities and mental illness,” said Kyalwazi. “This is especially evident in low-income communities, something that frustrates me. In the next few years, I look forward to learning more about how I can use my personal background and medical education towards further supporting these populations. I chose Neuroscience as a major because it enabled me to explore the scientific mechanisms behind neuropsychiatric diseases.”
Throughout her time at Notre Dame, Ashley gained valuable experience as a neuroscience research assistant at different academic institutions, including Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Ashley’s list of accomplishments includes serving as the founder and head advising fellow for Matriculate-Notre Dame, where she has spent several years working to improve the matriculation rate of high-achieving, low-income high school students into some of the top Universities throughout the United States. She was also an Executive Board Member for The Clubhouse of St. Joseph County- an organization that supports individuals living with mental illness. Additionally, Ashley served as both a coach and the Director of Communications for the Notre Dame chapter of Special Olympics. Despite these commitments, she still managed time to play for the ND women’s club soccer team in the Midwest Alliance Soccer Conference, play for her dorm basketball team, coach a co-recreational basketball team- ‘Trust the Process’- and play the piano for a student group on campus.
At the end of the summer, she will move to the East Coast to begin her medical education at Harvard, one of many medical schools that she was ultimately accepted to.
Kyalwazi has been aided in her path by her association with the Jackie Robinson Foundation as a Jackie Robinson Scholar.
“The Jackie Robinson Foundation provides support to a selective group of young minority scholars from across the nation,” said Kyalwazi. “As a member of the JRF Class of 2018, I have had the opportunity to become close friends with the 37 other members of my class. Over the past four years, JRF has provided me with not only financial support, but also aided in my personal and professional development. I am incredibly grateful for the relationships I have built within the organization and the support I have received. As a healthcare professional, I intend to uphold Jackie’s legacy of commitment to the underserved and marginalized.”
Kyalwazi leaves an impression everywhere she goes and St. Francis was no different. She was a standout soccer player for the Troubadours, helping lead the team to win the Section Title in 2014, and also played as a pointguard for the basketball team. She was the Captain of the Speech and Debate Team, and the President of the Black and Latino Union. As Student Body President, Ashley helped establish “The Zoo” in 2014- the St. Francis student cheering section. This was an experience that she has called one of her favorite memories about her time at SF.
“For me it was seeing the zoo come together for the first time at Holy Court in 2013-14,” said Kyalwazi of her favorite moment. “With the other student body officers, we all dressed up in animal attire and the t-shirt that was rolled out that year that we designed. It was great to see all of our peers at St. Francis and Jesuit wearing the shirts and believing in the community and demonstrating their pride. I am glad to see that legacy continue each year on campus.”
The Zoo has become a fixture at the school, especially during the Holy Court and Holy Hoops events each year held between St. Francis and Christian Brothers.
“I am incredibly proud,” said Kyalwazi of the Zoo legacy. “For me, the Zoo represents much more than just a fun and rowdy student cheering section. We [the Student Body Officers] decided to call it “The Zoo” because we hoped it would represent St. Francis’ overall mission, while embodying our patron saint. Watching all these young, bright, intelligent and enthusiastic women come together, wearing the T-shirts and screaming in support of their fellow Troubies…anyone can see the sense of pride, community and sisterhood that is at the core of St. Francis. It is incredibly gratifying to see those values perpetuated through The Zoo and I look forward to seeing how the future Student Body Officers and members of the SF community continue to build and develop this legacy.”