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Tailored schedule helps basketball player achieve education goals to study abroad

The one thing that Ashley Hughes knew when she came to The University of Tulsa is that she wanted to experience everything that college life had to offer including studying abroad. As a star basketball player in her hometown of Sulphur, Oklahoma, Hughes earned a basketball scholarship to play with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane women’s basketball team as a shooting guard and served as the team’s co-captain in her senior year.

At the same time, Hughes kept her attention on her coursework with a major in Exercise and Sports Science and a minor in Spanish. “I’ve always wanted to work with, and help, people because a desk job is just not for me,” Hughes said. “And, I really wanted to study abroad – something my TU advisor, Dean Robin Ploeger, helped to make happen by offering me a tailored schedule.”

“I really wanted to study abroad and my TU advisor helped to make it happen.”

In the summer of her senior year, Hughes’ dream of studying abroad came true when she traveled to Spain to attend the University of Alcalá and finish out her coursework for TU. “I wanted to study abroad so I could immerse myself in a different culture and earn college credit at the same time,” said Hughes. During her time in Spain, she furthered her skills in Spanish which came in handy for her post-graduation work as a program assistant with Opportunity International Nicaragua (OIN).

OIN helps communities in developing countries by linking the most promising community economic development strategies with microcredit strategies to accelerate and elevate the poor out of poverty. During her six-month position, Hughes is teaching rural youth in topics such as nutrition, health education and English.

“I have seen first-hand the tangible difficulties that prevent the poor from accessing fresh, healthy nourishment,” Hughes said. “In rural Nicaragua, inconsistent supplies of water and electricity make food storage and preparation difficult, and poor transportation creates logistical problems to food access. Despite this, the people are eager to learn.”

TU grad Ashley Hughes and kids in Nicaragua

Upon returning to the U.S. from Nicaragua, Hughes will attend graduate school to earn a master’s degree in dietetics. “I ultimately want to work in public health and help individuals learn about proper nutrition and exercise,” says Hughes. “In my years at TU, I was exposed to how nutrition and strength training work together.” In fact, it was Hughes’ internship at the Tulsa City-County Health Department that helped her to discover her calling to work in public health. There she worked with health educators to conduct wellness programs for children and adults.

May 2018 update to original story ... In the fall of 2019, Hughes will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for a master’s in public health.

“I truly enjoyed my time at TU,” said Hughes. “My #TUStory is still being written. Even after graduation, I’ve stayed in touch with my advisor who is now the dean, professors and fellow students. I will always be a part of TU.”

“My TU Story is still being written.”

Robin Ploeger, dean of the Oxley College of Health Sciences said, “Ashley had the college experience that we desire for all students in that she was involved in campus activities while keeping academics as her priority. She had goals in college, one of which was to study abroad, and worked hard to achieve those goals. It is fun to see her use the knowledge and skills that she learned at TU in her work in Nicaragua as she prepares to attend graduate school to further her education and career opportunities. As she said, her TU story is still being written.”

For more information on The University of Tulsa Oxley College of Health Sciences and the Exercise and Sports Science degree, follow this link.