Scholar-Athlete Ashley Armstrong Travels to Paraguay for Global Fellowship

By, Gabe Taylor '12

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -
In less than two months, Santa Clara University student-athlete Ashley Armstrong (AA) will be packing her bags and flying south to Paraguay as part of the Global Social Benefit Fellowship (GSBF). The junior guard on SCU's women's basketball team will take time away from the court to focus on social business and the positive effects it has throughout the globe. Armstrong caught up with SantaClaraBroncos.com to discuss her upcoming endeavor and what it entails.

The senior to-be in 2012-13 was recently named a West Coast Conference All-Academic Team honoree for the second consecutive season and was tabbed by the Jesuit Basketball Spotlight as a National All-Academic Team selection. The native of Reno, Nevada owns a 3.86 cum GPA as an Anthropology major. She is also one of the team's key players, starting 29 of the Broncos' 30 games as a junior, finishing second on the team in rebounding and scoring in double figures 12 times.

SCB: How did you earn a spot as a Global Social Benefit Fellow? And what is the goal of the program?

AA:
I am fortunate enough to have been selected as a Global Social Benefit Fellow. The fellowship is offered through the Center for Science, Technology, and Society. It is actually the program's pilot year. The fellowship is very competitive, and this year ten Santa Clara juniors from an array of majors were selected to participate. The aim of the program is to get students acquainted with the field of social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship is using business to come up with ethical, innovative, sustainable solutions to many of the world's problems. The field embodies Santa Clara's Jesuit tradition of consciousness, care, and compassion.

SCB: What is the structure of the fellowship?

AA:
The fellowship is a year-long commitment. Fellows take a class in the spring where they learn about their placements and the field of social entrepreneurship. In the summer, fellows are paired with a social business where they will work for about five weeks. This is a wonderful opportunity for fellows to pursue field-based study and researched. When the fellows return, they participate in the Global Social Benefit Incubator program where about twenty social entrepreneurs come to campus and learn how to improve their business. It is almost like an accelerated MBA program. Fellows then finish fall quarter working on their research project.

SCB: What will you be doing as part of the fellowship?

AA:
I am going to be working with a social business called Fundación Paraguaya. Fundación Paraguaya is an incredible business that has created a paradigm shift in Paraguay in the area of education. Essentially, students are paid to go to school where they enhance their business knowledge and learn practical skills in their area of focus. Fundación Paraguaya actually has organic vegetable farms and dairy farms where students can hone their skills and increase their knowledge through experiential learning. The profit from these farms actually helps to sustain the business. It also has a micro-lending sector where it makes small loans to farmers. Fundación Paraguaya promotes entrepreneurship and tries to come up with innovative solutions to tackle problems of poverty and unemployment. When in Paraguay, I will be conducting poverty surveys and interviewing rural farmers to help assess people's needs.

SCB: How did you land the Paraguay placement?

AA: I couldn't choose my placement, but all the placements are really neat. Some of the other fellows are going to Uganda and India. I was placed in Paraguay because of my background in anthropology and business as well as because of my proficiency in Spanish.

SCB: What are you most excited about regarding the trip?

AA:
Although there is so much I am excited for, I am exceptionally anxious to immerse myself in completely different culture and offer assistance in underdeveloped communities. I am sure that it will be a challenging yet rewarding experience.