Ashley Miller awarded UofL’s highest honor for doctoral students

Ashley Miller awarded UofL’s highest honor for doctoral students

Ashley Miller awarded UofL’s highest honor for doctoral students

Photo by Babacar Sambe

School of Nursing Ph.D. candidate Ashley Miller has won the Guy Stevenson Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies, the highest honor the University of Louisville gives to graduating doctoral students.

Named after a former dean of the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies, the Guy Stevenson Award is given in the fall and spring semesters to the most outstanding doctoral graduate who excels in scholarship and leadership.

As the recipient, Miller will carry the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies banner at the Doctoral Hooding and Graduation Ceremony and the university-wide Commencement Ceremony on May 14. She also will speak at the Hooding Ceremony.

Miller, 32, was raised in Louisville and is co-owner of Athena Health and Wellness, a boutique-style health center for women where she works as a women’s health nurse practitioner.

While working and attending school full-time in 2014, she ran for state representative of the 32nd District in east Louisville, losing to Phil Moffett.

Miller is the first person in her family to graduate from college. She supported herself throughout her education, and participated in beauty pageants to take advantage of scholarship programs. Miller won Ms. Kentucky United States in 2013, Miss Black Ohio in 2010 and Miss University of Louisville in 2008. Her success in pageants provided enough scholarship money to pay for her master’s education.

Miller received her M.S.N from UofL School of Nursing and her B.S.N. from Berea College.


How does it feel to receive this award?

It’s very humbling. I think when you’re in the program and you’re working so hard toward a goal you really don’t pay attention to the stuff around you that you’ve achieved, so it definitely feels amazing for someone to tap you and say we think your work is amazing. It’s a pillar of hope for other people that you really can achieve anything you want if you work hard enough and stay persistent.

Why did you pursue nursing?

When I was in high school, my mom was working for a cardiologist and she took me in to shadow the doctors and the nurses. I loved the autonomy of the physicians, but I loved the people skills and the time that the nurses got to spend with the patients, so I knew I wanted something in between. I love being around people and helping them so it was a natural fit for me.

Why did you decide to pursue your graduate education at UofL?

I’m a Cardinal through and through. I did my master’s at UofL and I had a fantastic experience. I knew the way things were set up and I liked it. The professors were very focused on making sure you were successful. I felt very comfortable. I felt supported, so when I was looking at coming back to school it was a natural choice. I really didn’t look anywhere else.

How has getting your Ph.D. from UofL prepared you for what’s next in your career?

I think that UofL in the last decade has really made a name for itself in terms of research. Being able to be a part of that and have those faculty members mentor you through the process really groomed me to know how to do good and sound research. They prepared me practically so that I know what I’m doing when I go out and do my first study by myself. I think that’s something that’s unique. A lot of universities aren’t doing research at the level that’s happening here.

Why did you decide to run for political office?

The semester before I had decided to run I had taken a health policy class here and I was really intrigued by the potential to have evidence-based legislation. I felt there should be more women at the table, more minorities at the table and more nurses because I think we have a unique gift in the way we deal with people and understand people.

What would you tell people who are considering attending the School of Nursing?

There is a unique blend of faculty members in the UofL School of Nursing, so most likely there’s someone who matches your research area or that’s close enough where they can mentor you through the process. It will change you for the better. I know I grew as a woman. I grew as a scientist all through this process and it was because I was supported by faculty members who genuinely cared about me and cared about me being successful.

What are your plans after graduation?

I opened a women’s health practice last June and I would love to figure out how to expand a research division out of my practice. I want to continue research aimed at improving the reproductive health care provided to adolescent females. I love teaching women and empowering them so I would definitely like to continue researching women and reproductive health.


April 8, 2016