Florida Tech Panther Scholar-Athlete Spotlight Recognizes Lacrosse Player Ashley Walter
By Daniel Supraner, Florida Tech Sports // September 13, 2021
Walter majoring in Genomics & Molecular Biology
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Being a scholar-athlete at Florida Tech takes an incredible amount of hard work and dedication to excel both in the classroom and on the field.
In this Scholar-Athlete Spotlight, we feature Panther women’s lacrosse player Ashley Walter, a junior defender from Barnegat, New Jersey who is majoring in Genomics and Molecular Biology.
Walter has been named to the Sunshine State Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll each of the past two springs. In addition, she has started 16 of a possible 17 games in her first two seasons in a Crimson and Gray uniform.
Walter’s schedule is fuller than most, so we sat down with her to ask what goes into her studies, why she chose this major and how she’s able to balance it all.
What is your major at Florida Tech? Why did you choose this direction for your education and is this something you always wanted to pursue??
So I major in genomics and molecular biology. I chose this major because I wanted to pursue medicine and help better people’s lives.
I chose this when I was probably a freshman in high school because I was so interested in the different fields of study that medicine helps you get into.
In regards to this major, what made you choose Florida Tech?
Florida Tech had just an outstanding program in the STEM.
So I think going into a major that the school was so intelligent, with STEM and having so many different courses to choose from, is why I chose Florida Tech.
You’ve said that your biggest focus in this field is on the brain, what brought you to that?
The brain was my focus because neurology itself is so invasive, diverse, it’s limitless in what you can study and what happens every day.
There are new questions about the brain and the nervous system every single day, it’s almost like solving a different puzzle every day.
What’s an average day of study/classes like for you?
An average day goes about from 8 am to about 11 pm to midnight depending on my class schedule and also our practice I usually go from class at 8 am to practice at 3 pm back to class and then studying all night.
How do you plan to use your degree after graduation?
I plan to use my degree to go to medical school and earn a PhD and continue studying in the field of neurology. I want to work on the brain, I want to work on different diseases and help find better treatments for people.
How do you balance everything during lacrosse season?
Balancing is hard. It comes with a lot of communication to not only my coaches but my professors and everyone that I’m surrounded with. As long as I have good time management,
I feel like my schedules have gotten easier and my life has just been easier as being a scholar-athlete.
What’s something you’ve learned about your major that opened your eyes?
Something interesting about my major for sure is that a lot of the time when you come into a pre-medical major or just a STEM major, everything’s picked for you and your courses are all required, there’s nothing you can really do yourself.
Here, I’ve learned with genomics and genetics and molecular biology itself is that a lot of the courses, you get to choose so your interests are based around what you want to do, you don’t have to just do this course or that course, you can actually choose things.
For example, I’m taking a biological psychology class where we’re basically just learning the entire neurology and all this neuroscience stuff. I think that’s something that’s really cool about my major here is that it’s not just based on a few required classes in your four years.
What are some exciting projects you are able to work on?
Some exciting things that I’ve seen, at least so far that I’ll be working in labs this semester, is something actually with my genetics Professor she does, she works on worms. If you didn’t know worms actually have quite a few neurons.
I mean, we have 100 billion-plus, and they have about 600 of the neurons we have and something cool about that is that we work on the neurons in these worms, and they continuously are the same as ours.
So, therefore, if we mess with something with their nerves, it’s like messing with ours, except we’re just not doing it on a human body.
How has being a collegiate athlete prepared you for the work you are currently doing? What traits do you take from the field that help you be successful?
Being a scholar-athlete just itself is a lot of time management, a lot of dedication to my major. I have to put a lot of work in outside of the classroom just to understand the concepts that we are doing in the classroom.
I think being an athlete itself has made me do that as you need so much discipline as an athlete, to continuously work in and out of the classroom as you’re working in and out on the field.
What advice would you give another athlete/prospective athlete who is looking to pursue the path you’ve taken?
The advice I would give is to start early on what you want to do. Research things out of the classroom before you even go in. Consistently, consistently communicate with people so that it’s not something that you need to learn to do and to manage your time very well.
What are you looking forward to most in your third lacrosse season?
I’m looking forward the most to being back with my team and hopefully getting a little normalcy this season. I’m looking forward to being a complete threat this season with my team and hopefully being an underdog in the SSC this semester.
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