Every day we like to shine a spotlight on people doing amazing work- both with Charity Miles and without. Today we’re featuring Ashlesha Dhuri and Cristina Macklem, both sophomores at the University of Connecticut.

Ashlesha is currently a sophomore studying Cognitive Science and is currently conducting research pertaining to the brain, and working towards understanding Alzheimer’s. Cristina is studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and is actively involved in UConn’s Outing Club and with the University of Connecticut Wildlife Society Chapter. She is currently doing research on amphibians in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment. 

What is your greatest accomplishment as of late?

Ashlesha: Entering into a 48 Hour Film Festival, and making a film, beginning to end, script-writing, casting, filming, and editing, in 48 hours, and then unexpectedly winning an award for it. We slept for maybe four hours the entire time, but the end result was so worth it.

Cristina: My greatest accomplishment so far was receiving the Holster Scholarship, which allowed me to spend my summer researching how the frequency and magnitude of temperature variation affected the growth and development of two local tadpole species. It was an incredible experience that set me on a path to pursue future research opportunities. 

What motivates you to make the world a better place?

Ashlesha: I am inspired by people. I am inspired by the people in my life that I already love, and the ones that I will love in the future. I am inspired by the ones who have done great things for me, and for the rest of the world, and I want to make the world a better place because it’s given me so much, and I want to pour everything I can back into it.

Cristina: I am also inspired by the amazing things people do everyday without recognition. I find inspiration in anything from small acts of kindness to incredible feats of knowledge, strength, and dedication. The people I surround myself with make me want to be a better person and do more to make a positive impact anywhere I can. 

What do you do stay healthy and fit?

Cristina: I am extremely active person who loves the outdoors. I believe I am happiest and healthiest when I can take a step back from the stress of school to go running or rock climbing. Being able to strike that balance is really important.

Ashlesha: I stay happy. I run occasionally, and rock climb as often as my schedule allows it. I surround myself with people I love. I figure that if I’m happy then I’m healthy, and being active, and doing things I love with people keeps me smiling.

What’s the best piece of advise you’ve ever received? 

Ashlesha: The best advice I’ve ever gotten is to trust myself. To trust that I can do what I set my heart out to do, and to trust that if I believe in myself, I can make a difference in the world, and I can make differences for people.

Cristina: One of my favorite quotes is from a really incredible runner, Steve Prefontaine. He said, “To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.” I find this quote to be applicable to more than just running in my life. I am an extremely dedicated and hard working person, and I try to give only my best in all endeavors I pursue. 

What’s your favorite aspect of using Charity Miles?

Cristina: I love using Charity Miles because it gives everyone a chance to make a difference just by doing what they do everyday. I believe that change and progress is not defined by and cannot be accomplished by a single person. It is the small contributions that people make everyday that culminate into something really incredible. Charity Miles achieves just that. 

Who do you exercise for, and why?

Ashlesha: I exercise to stay healthy, and I am motivated by my dad. He’s the one who gets me up and running in the summer with him, and he encourages me to go out, even if it’s just a short 30 minute run. Sometimes it’s the feeling of achievement I get after exercising that gets me going.

Cristina: Before Charity Miles, I exercised primarily for myself or for the benefit of my team. Since using Charity Miles, I feel like I am running for more than just myself; I am running for a cause and with a purpose. I love that feeling. 

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