Alex Ashley: AIM, Scholarships & PhD Candidacy!

Meet Alex Ashley:
AIM Alum. Lafayette College Alum. AIM SAT Math Tutor. PhD Candidate.
AIM is well known for helping superstars achieve their goals and Alex Ashley is no exception. Alex exudes intelligence and vibrance. He is a 23-year-old certified CRLA Peer Tutor and served as a teaching assistant for all but one semester during his college years. He was an Oxford Jamaica-Rhodes Scholar finalist and the 2022 George Wharton Pepper Prize winner. He successfully completed his undergraduate career with a major in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and a minor in Mathematics.

Alex was accepted to multiple graduate institutions to pursue his dreams in Material Science and Engineering including University of Notre Dame, University of Michigan, and the University of Delaware to name a few, but he will be pursuing his PhD at Drexel University in Solar Cell Technology.

Renewable energy is not the only thing Alex is excited about, he loves music and is a die-hard anime stan. So much so, that he finds every excuse to weave anime into his day-to-day conversations. Alex has long term goals of addressing the ever-pressing issue of climate change.

We'll let Alex tell the rest of his story! We asked him some questions about his journey. Here's what he had to say.
What is the first career goal you had as a child? Is that still your goal now? If not, what is it?
My first career goal ever was to become an ophthalmologist, but that has changed. I am now interested in improving the efficiency of solar technology so as to provide a feasible alternative to fossil fuels as an energy source. I changed my mind several times about my career goals before settling on this new-found passion, but now I'm sure.

How was your early academic life? Were you always a high performer? Did you have any challenges in the Jamaican primary and secondary school experience?
In primary school, I was by no means a diligent student. At the time, school came easy for me so I didn't have to exert much effort-- I didn't experience many challenges. On the contrary, high school was significantly more difficult and discipline had to be exercised to maintain my high performance. One-on-one consultations with my teachers became necessary in some cases as well as extra lessons.

What plans did you have for your tertiary studies?
I did not always have plans for my tertiary education. In fact, I was not quite sure what I wanted to study. Thankfully, AIM helped me choose a liberal arts institution where I could explore this uncertainty that I faced in hopes of discovering my passions-- and that I did.

How did you become enrolled in the AIM Online Academy? How did you become an AIM Higher Foundation recipient?
It was a part of the legacy my sister had left for me. Having known my family on a deeply personal level and understanding our financial struggles, AIM generously offered us a significant discount on the cost of their services. I registered with AIM in April of my first year in sixth form.

What did receiving the scholarship mean for you and your academic journey?
Even with the significant discount, meeting the monthly quota was an almost insurmountable task for us, but with the services that AIM provided, I (and my parents) can confidently say it was worth it. The investment bore fruit tenfold, especially when I was awarded the Jamaica-Lafayette Scholar* award. Knowing the struggles we were facing to still pay, this pushed me to excel in my studies for the SAT and college application process.

The Jamaica-Lafayette Scholarship is open only to Jamaican nationals who have been accepted to Lafayette College, and covers the full financial needs of the recipients for four years in addition to a stipend for overseas study experience. As of 2022, four of the recipients have been AIM students.

Tell us about applying and being accepted to Lafayette.
I wouldn't necessarily say that the application process itself was difficult. It was, however, quite tedious, and with the structure that AIM provided for me, I completed the application months before the deadline. My scores increased significantly, and my personal statement underwent multiple professional edits, rewrites, and reviews. Thus, when I was accepted to Lafayette, I was overjoyed that my hard work was proving to be worth it. This feeling was further emphasized when I was awarded the scholarship.

How was the transition from the Jamaican to American education system?
Honestly, the transition from the Jamaican (Campion College and e-learning) to the American education system was almost seamless as there were many similarities, especially since the class sizes were also similar.

What was the culture shift like?
The culture shift was great, and it took me a whole year to properly adjust. In fact, the most shocking thing which I had to learn was getting to my first class on time (8 AM) during inclement weather. I have slipped in snow SOOOO many times in trying to get to class early. Running in slightly melted snow is a 0/10 experience-- DO NOT RECOMMEND. Still, one-on-one consultations remained necessary to maintain a high performance, and when all else failed, I learned that YouTube can also be a great teacher.

What was it like receiving the Lafayette College Pepper Prize? 
Receiving the Pepper Prize was a very emotional experience as I was a Black international student among many white and Black Americans. The odds were never in my favour to begin with, but I somehow came out on top. I was happy to make my family proud and most of all, give Jamaican students and our education system the glory that they deserve. I now served as a role model for students to come, and for that, I am exceedingly grateful and excited.

Are you excited for your graduate studies?
I am very excited to begin my graduate studies in improving the efficiency of solar cell technology. I hope to obtain a PhD and become a part of the team that seeks to make solar technology the primary choice in source of energy rather than the alternative.

What philosophy do you live by?
Working hard towards your dreams is admirable, but enjoying the journey for me is more important.

What, in your opinion, is the key to success?
The key to success is twofold, in my opinion. One must be a diligent hard-worker, but one must also be able to market themselves and their passions to others, for success is not only based on what you know, but also who you know. In fact, sometimes who you know is more important. Networking is key.

How do you intend to use the education, training and exposure you receive in college to influence the development of your community and country?
I'll start by sharing the knowledge and lessons which I have gained from my own college experiences to guide the incoming students so that they too may be successful. This involves being a SAT tutor at AIM! As previously mentioned, my goals are to help not only my community and country, but the world as a whole in climate change mitigation strategies.

What would you say to a student interested in enrolling to the AIM Online Academy?
Choose AIM, because they care deeply about each of their students and tailor their methods to fit everyone's learning ability. And trust me, they know exactly how this game works, and know how to turn any bland application into a winning one!

We are so proud of Alex and all our other WINNERS! Want to join the winning team? Enroll in the AIM Online Academy today!
Inspired by Alex's story and want to be tutored by him for your SAT prep? Join the next AIM SAT Class now! 
Author: AIM Online Academy
AIM Online Academy (was AIM Educational Services) is the leading college prep provider in Jamaica, that helps students maximize their potential as they make the journey towards college in the US, UK and Canada. For over a decade, AIM's team of College Experts & Essay Coaches have assisted students from all over the Caribbean, the USA and Canada get into the college of their dreams with enough scholarship and financial aid to actually attend.

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