Philosophy Student Works to Improve Health Care Nationwide

Philosophy Student Works to Improve Health Care Nationwide

For Jeramy Ashton, the road to graduation hasn’t always been clear. Though he initially attended Dixie State University to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, he soon discovered that wasn’t the right path for him.

“During my time at Dixie State, I began exploring who Jeramy Ashton truly was,” said Ashton. “In that small, traditional town, I was soon shunned for being an active member of the LGBTQIA+ community. I fell into a deep depression that destroyed my social life and faced anxiety attacks that bled into my academic and work performance.”

Ashton decided to return home to Salt Lake City, although he didn’t truly have a plan and continued to spiral deeper into his depression. After several difficult months searching for a new purpose, he was suddenly struck by the desire to speak to a professor he had connected with at Salt Lake Community College. Ashton said this professor made him feel safe when he desperately needed help and a change.

The professor, Kindra Amott, had started working at UVU as an academic advisor for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “She invited me to her new office at Utah Valley University and committed me to explore what was possible for me at UVU,” said Ashton. “As someone who did not have access to money, did not have a successful social network, and did not have an ecclesiastical endorsement, UVU gave me the opportunity to be everything I wanted and accomplish what I never thought possible.”

Ashton chose to pursue a degree in philosophy as a stepping stone toward his eventual goal of having a career in the legal field. “The philosophy major is a very versatile degree with a competitive cohort,” he said. “I have been so blessed to have a flexible course load that keeps me on track while tailoring my research toward my particular interests in healthcare and social justice.”

Ashton is deeply invested in furthering health education and awareness, particularly for marginalized or underserved communities. Some of his passion stems from his own childhood experiences. When he was eight years old, Ashton was sexually assaulted by his basketball coach and consequently diagnosed with PTSD related epilepsy. Encouraged by his therapist to transform his childhood trauma and its effects into art and research, Ashton has devoted much of his time at UVU toward healthcare and shining a light on marginalized communities.

“UVU is a place to be YOU,” he said. “At surface level, the student body looks like they are all the same, the same upbringing, the same life experience, the same privilege... UVU is so much more than that. My major, in particular, has taught me the importance of finding and using your voice. My program has allowed me to push myself further than I ever thought possible all because my professors encouraged us to find our passion, question it, and not be afraid to rock the boat.”

During his time at UVU, Ashton’s dedication to finding and using his voice has motivated him to participate in creative and research projects addressing a wide variety of topics. His poem, “The Hour of Hegemonic Masculinity,” won the Poetry Award from the UVU Conference for Writing on Social Change. His paper about the recreational use of Adderall among college students was presented at the UVU Ethics Symposium and UVU’s Conference on Writing for Social Change and was recently published in the Palouse Review, an undergraduate honors journal for the Western United States. He worked with several medical students at the University of Utah to write a paper titled “The Global Injustice Among the HIV/AIDS Epidemic” which was submitted for publication by the Sophia Undergraduate Journal of Philosophy.

Ashton has also conducted research and written papers about environmental justice and implicit bias, trans health, domestic violence, safe and healthy sexual education, and more. He’ll be presenting two papers — one about his research on rape and masculinity and another about aliefs [automatic or habitual belief-like attitudes] and social justice — at the 2020 Utah Conference of Undergraduate Research.

His latest research paper has been one of his most passionate projects to date. After studying marginalized communities through the duration of his academic career, Ashton realized he was starting to develop animosity toward the “masses.” An experience changed his opinion. He recognized that challenges are universal and not limited to any one socio-economic group.  “I had the honor to see into the lives of those I had seen as the upper echelon and witness the amount of fear, distress, and diversion that they experience. One specific experience of diversion came from a loved one who was experiencing suicide ideation. I decided to take the material that I had learned from my final semester and write a research paper entitled ‘Suicide and Diversion’ which is now submitted for presentation and publication.”

Now that he’s graduated, Ashton plans to apply to a joint Juris Doctorate and Master of Public Administration program to further pursue a legal career. He hopes to work with victims of sexual assault and provide health education to the community. He says his long-term goal is to pursue a career in healthcare policy in the hopes of improving the overall well-being of the nation.

“Be brave, be here,” Ashton advises students. “Looking back, some of my hardest days were at UVU, and some of the proudest moments of my life were at UVU. Just enjoy where you are, never give up, and make room for grace in your life.”



Headshot of Wilson the Wolverine

Questions? Ask Wilson