This month, Ashley Lyles was crowned Miss New York International 2020; she participated in Miss Manhattan and Miss Bronx; she plans to participate in Miss International 2020. But it’s not just about winning the pageants for the GSAS biology third-year. In fact, she sees them as just a stepping stone in her larger career plans.
In 2016, Lyles’s father suffered a cardiac arrest at a local gym; no one knew how to perform CPR or how to use a defibrillator. Luckily, however, a medical doctor was onsite and able to rush to his aid.
“If that doctor had not been there, it could be a very different story,” Lyles said.
This motivated her to become a physician — more specifically, a cardiologist. Though the incident happened only three years ago, Lyles has known she wanted to be a doctor since she was a child.
“I remember when I was younger, going to a doctor with my dad and listening to his heartbeat, and the doctor teaching me how to use a stethoscope against my dad’s chest,” Lyles said. She paused. “Yeah, I guess my dad’s heart really played a big role in my interests in cardiology.”
Shortly after Lyles had moved to New York City, she had also won a year-long internship with Veronica Webb, a ’90s supermodel. At this job, Lyles realized she had everything she needed to pursue pageantry; she said it all fell into place.
“I was interning for Veronica at her lifestyle blog, I was doing work for the Cardiovascular Research Foundation and I was also a student at NYU SHERP,” Lyles said. “And it was just like everything that a titleholder has to do.”
Lyles received an undergraduate degree in professional writing at Michigan State University, which she uses to combine the fields of journalism and medicine. She moved on to complete NYU’s Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program, a master’s program in the Arthur L. Carter Institute, which has helped to further her career as a medical journalist. Lyles is also busy as an RA at a graduate dorm — another time-consuming role consisting of weekly meetings and a constant push to connect with residents.
“Most people, when they think of you saying ‘I want to be a doctor,’ they think you go to undergrad, you get really good grades and then you immediately go to medical school,” Lyles said. “But I wanted to develop in other ways. I wanted to experience different things like doing a pageant, exploring New York City, being a medical journalist.”
Lyles sees her skills as a journalist and even her pageant work, as directly feeding into her future career as a cardiologist.
“I have seen her effortlessly merge the fields of beauty, journalism, and medicine so seamlessly,” Marlisa Granderson, a close friend of Lyles, said in an email. “Her work ethic is unmatched.”
The recent pageant winner is currently gearing up to prepare for her next one — Miss International 2020. Though she has the usual need to stay in shape and figure out a skincare routine to prep for the big day, this is still another step in Lyles’s overall process to becoming a cardiologist.
Lyles is also trying to be as involved as possible as an ambassador for the American Heart Association. She goes to luncheons and events, and advocates for women’s heart health and shares her father’s story.
Despite having so many commitments, Lyles doesn’t let herself get too overwhelmed.
“Sometimes you can get so focused on one path that you forget to just live your life and enjoy your life along the way,” Lyles said.
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