Dedication and drive: UBMD scholarship winner shows hard work pays off

Ayala Simpson.

Published May 31, 2020

Department of Surgery awards Ayala Simpson UBMD 2020 Education Scholarship


Ayala Simpson knew she wanted to be a doctor from a young age, but as a young mother, she didn’t know if this would be possible.

Now, Simpson is one year away from finishing her second degree and pursuing her master’s in nursing. Simpson’s hard work and dedication paid off, literally.

Simpson is this year’s UBMD 2020 $10,000 Education Scholarship recipient. She has worked with Kaleida Health for nearly 11 years, and is a certified medical assistant in BGMC’s D-3 Minimally Invasive Surgery Center and a nursing student at Trocaire College. After finishing her degree next year, Simpson plans to go straight into her accelerated program before pursuing her master’s in nursing. Her end goal is to be a nurse practitioner, and her time with UBMD has inspired her to work toward opening her own practice focusing on women’s health.

The Education Scholarship, she said, will help her pursue the education necessary to reach these goals.

“This is my second degree, so I am spending a fortune on educational supplies, tuition being one of them,” Simpson said. “I do attend a private school, so it’s a little bit more expensive than going to a SUNY or a community college. So this is definitely helping me in the financial aspects as well as it’s also a push toward encouragement as well.”

Simpson was a mother at 19, and said she saw a pattern of her family succeeding in college, “but it was always a reverse roll.”

“We always had families first. And then later on down the line, we pursued a career once we realized that we couldn’t take care of a family without having some kind of credentials.”

And even though juggling family, work and school can be disorienting, Simpson balances her life with her end goal in mind.

“It’s very hard to manage, but it’s manageable. And I feel like if you put your mind to what it is that you want –– that ending goal –– you can do it. Sometimes it’s hard. … So you just got to look at that main goal, and that is a lot of where your push comes from, knowing that that light is at the end of the tunnel if you keep working toward it.”

Simpson’s pursuit of her goals reflects her desire to help women pursue their own health. And her time with UBMD has given her the drive to push forward.

“When I first came into the clinic that I worked at, it was mainly focused on bariatric. And you would see a lot of women who had three and four kids and who was desperately overweight, who just wanted to get back to themselves and bring that self-esteem back,” Simpson said. “And they had bariatric surgery, lost a ton of weight, and it just promoted them to be better and do different things. … So that is what really led me so wanting to pursue it further. Because once you see somebody is healthy, and they’re happy, it just seems like they’re able to do more.”

She credits mentors like UBMD Department of Surgery Chair Steven Schwaitzberg, MD and Alan Posner, MD, for inspiring her, pushing her toward her goals and showing her that no matter your background, with hard work and dedication you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

“As they watch you grow, they see you come in there as one title, and if they feel something or a niche in you, they really push you forward to say, ‘It’s OK.’ You are never too old to learn. You are never too old to invest in yourself.”