Ashley Strazzella, Fuld Fellow (ABS Program)

Ashley Strazzella.

About Ashley

  • Program: ABS Nursing
  • Hometown: East Aurora, NY
  • Favorite Self-Care Activity: Yoga and meditation
  • Previous Education: Bachelor of Science, Biology (minor in physics, concentration in health sciences), Le Moyne College

Why nursing?

I had originally graduated with the intention of going to medical school to become a doctor. It was the time I spent interning in a small rural hospital in India that I decided nursing was a better fit for me. I spent my days there shadowing the staff. Although I was very interested in the medical analysis and critical thinking that went into being a doctor, I noticed how much more patient interaction the nurses had. In my experiences, it was a the nurses who truly created relationships with their patients on a deep and caring level. One man in particular had a huge impact on my experience there; he was a diabetic undergoing amputation on his limb. As you can imagine, to be missing a limb in rural India would leave this man with a very difficult life ahead. The nurses were so incredible in supporting him through this process and adjustment on both a physical and emotional level. Their care a dedication inspired me in a way that made me sure that this was the line of work for me. 

Why UB?

UB has an excellent reputation for the biomedical sciences and I knew I wanted my education to be quality. I loved that they offer an accelerated program as I’ve been out of school for a few years and didn’t want to waste any time. Both my brother-in-law and cousin graduated together from the ABS program a few years prior and gave excellent recommendations and testimonials to their education. I also knew I wanted to be close to home and family so it seemed UB was a perfect fit.

Areas of Interest

I’m not exactly sure where I want to focus yet. I have an inkling that I will be very drawn to labor and delivery as well as pediatric care. I have a child of my own and I chose to birth out of hospital. I absolutely adored the care of my nurse midwives and have considered going down this road later. Supporting birthing people and babies is a place that hits very close to home for me. I’m also considering pediatrics because we’ve had pediatric care that has been both absolutely wonderful and inspiring, and care that has left me as a parent feeling overlooked, judged, under-informed and unconsidered. I never want any parent to experience the later in their time of need and fear. I would love to provide parents and children with nursing care that allows them to feel supported and considered in a time that is likely full of fear and uncertainty. 

Activities and Accolades

I’ve received the merit based Dean Scholarship during my time at Le Moyne College for undergraduate studies. I was also on the Dean’s list for all eight semesters of undergrad there and graduated with Honors and Cum Laude status. During undergrad I conducted research for the school on the advancement alternative medical systems throughout the last 20 years. This landed me an internship in India in which I worked in a small rural hospital providing traditional Indian and Western medical care. This led me to stay in India for the next three years volunteering at the Shankar Prasad Foundation as the head of volunteer projects. This organization worked to provide opportunity for the local rural community by funding schools, clean up initiatives, waste management programs, dog sterilizations and stray dog care, women’s empowerment, and much more. This was by far my most treasured experienced. I worked in the San Salvador, Bahamas, conducting coral reef research for a month during my third year at Le Moyne College. And I held an internship at Harissa Ayurvedic Wellness post graduation to prepare me for the time I spent in India. Upon returning I shadowed in a Dermatology office under Melissa Delgao, RN.

For most of my working life I’ve worked in the food service industry, during which I’ve worked as a hostess, busser, waitress, barback, prepcook, linecook, dishwasher and bartender. I enjoyed learning every possible position so I could be as effective as possible in my job by knowing all areas of the restaurant.

In 2015 I started my own business, AshTree Wellness, that I worked part time, along with being in food service. Under AshTree Wellness, I provided wellness services such as reiki, yoga, meditation/mindfullness, relaxation techniques, reiki and yoga nidra teacher trainings, private and group yoga classes, and art classes. I also sold the artwork I created during this time and organized craft fairs and vending opportunities in my community.

I volunteer yearly for Waste Free Earth which works to provide education and waste management initiative to large events in which we’ve diverted 90% of waste from landfills. From 2016-2018 I’ve received 400+ hours of training and apprenticeships in Herbal/Plant Medicine from the Gaia School of Healing. I receive my Yoga Alliance Certification as a 200 hour Yoga Teacher from Himalayan Yoga Bliss in India in 2017 and my Yoga Alliance Certification as a 200 h our Yoga Nidra Meditation Teacher from the Shankar Prasad Foundation in India in 2016. I received my certification as a reiki facilitator and instructor from ReikiYogam in India in 2014, 2015, 2016 and again in 2017. And I completed a 10 day meditation in silence training from the Tushita Meditation Center in India in 2016. I also participate in a community gardening initative in Buffalo under Grassroots Gardens and created a community garden this last summer in East Aurora, NY. All of this work, volunteering, travel, and training has given me the skillset I need to think critically, work well on a team, work with people from a large range of demographics and backgrounds, to be compassionate, and to care for my own mental health and wellbeing in the process. 


In my free time I like to create. I consider myself an artist and most enjoy fiber arts and making jewelry. I also spent a lot of time practicing yoga and meditation, as well as dance. In the last few years I’ve gotten into circus and performance arts which has been great fun! I’ve learn to spin fire and spent a few years doing performance art. I enjoy attending live music and art festivals with my family. I also enjoying gardening and learning about permaculture. I have a small garden and flock of chickens I care for and intend to expand to care for more animals. I love being outside in nature and go camping and hiking with my son and our dog as much as possible. 

What's Next

Post graduation I would like to spend a year or two working in a hospital in Buffalo. In this time I hope to gain greater perspective on which specialty I’d like to focus on. I’m also considering continuing my education to nurse midwife or nurse practitioner. I have no decided on this path yet and hope the time after graduation will bring me greater clarity. I really value what I’ve learned about alternative and integrative medical systems from my previous work, volunteering, studies, and internships. I see the value in integrative approaches and hope to find that balance in my own work. I suspect it will lead to furthering my education.  I would eventually like to end up either owning or working in an integrative based facility in the future. 


As of May 17, I will no longer qualify for any student aid, which means that any other academic pursuits be paid for completely out of pocket. In December 2019, I learned that I was granted entry into UB's Accelerated Nursing Program. Despite my elation, my greatest concern has been my financial circumstance. My nursing education runs a cost of about $30,000, not including textbooks, uniforms and other medical equipment. I am currently not working due to COVID-19, and when I return to work I’ll only be working one day a week. My earnings are barely enough to pay for rent and food. Because the accelerated nursing program is extremely demanding, I will eventually need to leave my employer. This issue puts me at risk of food insecurity and homelessness. I also don't have any relatives in Buffalo nor does my family have the means to help me out; my pursuits are solely dependent on me. This scholarship will help pay for some of my tuition and lessen my financial burden so that I can actualize my dream of becoming a nurse.