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Sept. 23, 2019

Beffa’s passion for helping others, networking leads to job shadow in D.C.

By Grace Niemeyer, communication assistant


For most college students, spring break is a chance to relax on the beach, but Northwest Missouri State University student Ashley Beffa took the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to job shadow at a prestigious medical center. Now, she’s applying the lessons of that experience to her remaining coursework and co-curricular activities at Northwest.

Beffa, a junior biology and psychology major from Kansas City, Missouri, is an office assistant in the Office of Student Affairs where she connected with Chris Hughes, who serves as an executive in residence at Northwest.

“[Chris] asked me the obligatory ‘What’s your major?’” Beffa said. “I told him and I always end with ‘I want to build artificial limbs and prosthetics and orthotics one day,’ and he said, ‘No way. I know people.’”

Within a few hours Hughes had lined up a job shadow opportunity for Beffa in Washington, D.C., at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the leading military medical center in the United States.

“It was incredible,” Beffa said. “I was so overwhelmed. It was an amazing scenario.”

Beffa holds leadership positions at the Newman Center and is involved in Alpha Delta Pi sorority. She said job shadowing in D.C. taught her more about being a leader.

“I learned that everyone – from the loudest in the room to the quietest – can be a leader,” Beffa said. “At Walter Reed, everyone seemed to lead in their own way. Maybe it was through title, experience, or by example, but everyone pitched in for the same common goal – to lead their patients in whatever way is needed to help them succeed. This has become my goal, to help lead others, however in my case, I am trying to lead them to also follow their dreams.”

Beffa traveled to D.C. last spring and was escorted by wounded warrior Joe Bowser for personalized tours of the Pentagon, Capitol Hill and Walter Reed. She met professionals ranging from residency program students to professionals about to retire.

“It was amazing because that’s normally a place that I wouldn’t be able to get into as a civilian, but they made special accommodations to be able to have me,” Beffa said. “It was just an amazing experience.”

At Walter Reed, Beffa learned about the process of building prosthetic limbs, new technologies and saw limb-building machinery in action.

“It wasn’t just people that I thought were important and were important to me and what I’ll experience later in life, but people that are important to the nation,” Beffa said. “It was overwhelmingly amazing.”

Beffa grew up with scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine, which fuels her passion for helping others through orthotics and prosthetics. For eight years she wore a back brace, so she understands what some patients experience.

“I really want to help others — usually it’s young girls — and say, ‘It’ll be OK. It all turns out OK,’” Beffa said. “Help guide and mentor them through that relationship.”

Beffa appreciates the opportunities and experiences Northwest provides, especially the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C. Her experience last spring helped her better understand the importance of her coursework at Northwest.

“I’m incredibly blessed that this has happened to me,” Beffa said. “I cannot thank Chris and Joe and everyone that helped me out for the experience that I gained and the knowledge that I gained. It’s important to thank those who helped me get there. I just really hope that I could be able to help somebody like they helped me one day.”


Media contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704