Twenty-two-year-old Ashley Tran will begin medical school at the University of Washington this fall already with plenty of experience helping patients under her belt.
For the past two years, Ashley served as the president of the Boise State University Red Cross Club. Under Ashley’s leadership, the club had 60 members and helped organize campus blood drives nearly every month.
On average, these drives collected about 30 units of blood, meaning each drive potentially helped save more than 30 lives. Many of those drives took place during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when there was a severe blood shortage, and each unit was critically important.
“It feels really good, especially during the time when there was a serious need,” the Boise native said. “Being able to help out with the campus community toward that cause was very important.”
The club used word-of-mouth and social media to help fill drives and really focused on bringing in first-time donors.
“It’s very important to keep the ball rolling by getting those consistent donations,” she said. “It all starts with the first person, introducing them to the process and making sure they’re comfortable enough to come back and donate again.”
Ashley got her start with the Red Cross when she was just 15 and attending Timberline High School. Her older sister Tiffany was also volunteering with the Red Cross, and Ashley served as a blood donor ambassador, helping donors check in at blood drives and making sure they had a good experience.
“It was one of the first volunteer opportunities I pursued because the Red Cross allowed junior volunteers,” she said. “Not a lot of places let people under 18 volunteer, especially with such big responsibilities.
“I was interested in the medical field at that time, and I hadn’t donated blood before. As a kid you don’t really know how the world works, and at that particular moment, I wanted to learn how blood donation works. As a blood donor ambassador, you really get a good idea of what that process looks like.”
During COVID, Ashley also volunteered as a Red Cross medical screener at blood drives, making sure people were healthy enough to donate. She later became an onboarding and training volunteer with the Red Cross as well.
After Tiffany finished high school, she went to school at BSU where she became president of the Red Cross Club. Ashley followed in her sister’s footsteps, taking over the reins after Tiffany graduated.
When she was 18, Ashley also began working as a nursing assistant on the oncology floor at the Saint Alphonsus Medical Center, a position she held for three years. It opened her eyes even more.
“A lot of my patients had to get blood transfusions,” she said. “I had already been volunteering at the Red Cross at that point but seeing that really cemented the idea of how important blood donations are because one person can get 10 units of blood.”
Now entering medical school, Ashley is not sure what her Red Cross future has in store as she navigates what promises to be a challenging courseload.
“I want to gauge how the scheduling looks and how school would work before I take on more things,” she said. “But that’s the hope – that I would continue on.”
The BSU Red Cross Club has a new president in place and will continue organizing blood drives and bringing new donors through the door.
Ashley encourages students who are interested in starting a Red Cross club at their high school or college to “go for it.”
“From my experience, the Red Cross is always willing to help, especially when it comes to community outreach and finding more opportunities for people to donate blood,” she said.
To learn more about starting a Red Cross club at your school visit, redcross.org/red-cross-youth/red-cross-clubs/starting-a-red-cross-club.html.