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Florida State University

Ashira Klein

Student paves road to medical school with service to others

"Long after I forget the names and faces of each patient we saw, I will remember the impact the doctor can have on the rural community."
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Major: Psychology/Biology
Graduation: Spring 2014


Florida State University senior Ashira Klein has been helping people less fortunate than her since she was 11 years old. At that young age, she joined Best Buddies, an international nonprofit dedicated to creating friendships between people with and without intellectual disabilities. Klein has stayed active with the organization ever since and has been the president of the FSU registered service organization on campus.

"Buddies gave me a judgment-free environment in which to be myself and have unconditional acceptance. Here at FSU, we have won both state and international awards from Best Buddies International. This year we are reaching record numbers for our organization, we have about 90 buddy pairs, and more than 200 members in total," Klein said.

Mary Frances Hanline, the group's faculty adviser, is impressed by the level of humanity she finds in Klein.

"Ashira is truly amazing in her dedicated to the organization of Best Buddies," said Hanline, a professor in the FSU College of Education's School of Teacher Education. "However, I believe she is equally dedicated to any other endeavor in her life. She is intelligent, articulate, competent and caring. She exhibits extraordinary leadership skills through her ability to organize herself and others to accomplish goals, to communicate effectively, and to inspire others. She is gifted in her ability to recognize the capabilities and strengths of others and to help others do the same in themselves."

That ability was recognized by the Division of Undergraduate Studies, which designated her as a Freshman Interest Group leader for the last two years. The FIG program, open to incoming freshmen, assists students with their initial selection of their liberal studies courses and carry a common thread of interest. Klein has taught a pre-med FIG and pre-med honors FIG and was took part in a FIG during her freshman year.

"As a FIG leader, I believe that I have impacted student's lives as positively as they did mine because as a freshman, I needed an upperclassman's help on more than one occasion. These students will become upperclassman soon, and I want them to remember all of the times we worked out challenges together, so that they can help any new scared freshman that might approach them in the future," Klein said.

Klein's plan for her future includes medical school with the aspiration of becoming a pediatric surgeon. She has taken many steps toward achieving her goal such as volunteering for MEDLIFE and Expand Peru.  MEDLIFE Mobile Clinics deliver primary care services to individuals and families who otherwise lack access. Expand Peru is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Peruvians in extreme poverty live a better life through programs that focus on education, health, and other issues.

"One of the most meaningful volunteer experiences in my life thus far occurred when I traveled to Lima, Peru with MEDLIFE," Klein said. "We hosted mobile medical clinics in remote mountain areas. These MEDLIFE mobile clinics are the only medical care some of the people will ever receive. With Expand Peru, I spent four hours every morning volunteering with a local doctor and three hours in the afternoon tutoring children, some of whom lived in an orphanage.

"Long after I forget the names and faces of each patient we saw, I will remember the impact the doctor can have on the rural community," she said.

Another step toward her goal will be to take a GAP year in between graduation and the start of medical school. During that time, Klein plans on spending time in Israel through the organization Oranim: Destination Israel, volunteering in a Tel Aviv children's hospital and experiencing firsthand a country on the forefront of medical research.

While at Florida State, Klein has racked up an impressive list of accomplishments and activities, which will help prepare her for her goal as well. In the community she has volunteered at Covenant Hospice, Planned Parenthood and Big Bend Hope House. Inside the classroom, she has participated in the Honors program, been a Garnet and Gold Scholar Society member and has been on the President's and Dean's list several times. She sees her dual major of psychology and biology with minors in chemistry and religion as a perfect way to prepare her for the challenges of the medical field.

"I chose biology and psychology as my majors because the mixing of the two seems only natural to me," Klein said. "The fact that the body can continuously perform hundreds of reactions to keep us alive and healthy is nothing short of amazing. A large part of recovery is the mindset of the patient. I know my background in psychology will help keep patients positive and inspired, with a strong will to live, while they fight whatever disease is attacking their body. If they are losing that fight, I want to have the skills to help the patient and their loved ones deal with the upcoming loss in whatever way possible."