Spotlight Stories: Ashley Dotter, UCSB


Ashley Dotter grew up in inland California and is an alumna from UC Santa Barbara. She has lived in the UK for 14 years and currently works as the Head of Project Management for a global healthcare delivery partner. She also serves as the UC UK Running Club Co-Captain and in our Mentorship Committee.


How did you end up at UC Santa Barbara?

I went to a high school in inland California where most people did not go to university. I was not sure if I wanted to attend university, however, one of my English teachers explained the UC system to me and encouraged me to apply, so I decided to apply. I visited UCSB on an open weekend to decide if it was the right campus for me and I fell in love with the campus. I remember seeing everyone on their bikes, the mountains, the sea and I felt this was where I was supposed to be. I just knew UCSB was for me!


What did you study at UCSB? 

I was in two minds of what to study – originally, I thought I would be a psychology major. I found it fascinating, but I started to draw closer to social psychology. A few of my professors explained to me that a communication degree may suit my interests better. I took a few of the Comms pre-recs and I realized it was my space. It’s a combination between sociology, psychology, anthropology, and media studies. I absolutely fell in love with the subject. While at UCSB, I volunteered as a peer health educator where I was given the opportunity to combine my interest in health with communication and psychology.


How was your overall experience there? 

Overall, I loved UCSB, UCSB gave me my future. At first, I found it a little hard to find my people perse. However, UCSB has people from all over the world from every end of the spectrum, so I was eventually able to find them. I was also given the opportunity to study abroad, the UCEAP program there is fantastic. In fact, all the student resource centers were great from financial aid services down to the cafeteria. There is a reason why Jack Johnson sings about the DLG at UCSB!


Can you tell us a bit more about your study abroad experience? 

I studied abroad twice. I did two programs back-to-back, I did a summer session at University of Sussex studying Global Health and Future Healthcare Systems. Then I came to London to do the accent program UC London. Then I participated in the internship program at UCDC where I began to think about whether to continue my education or go into the workforce.

I went back to Santa Barbara to finish my final quarter and decided to apply for an MA. I enjoyed my experience in London so much that I applied for an MA at UCL to study PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) and got in. My MA is what brought me over to the UK permanently.


How did you find going from UCSB to an MA at UCL?

The education system is totally different! I thought UCSB prepared me well, but university in the UK is more independently lead – especially at a masters level. It’s not a matter of doing your required reading and showing up to class. You have to really sit down in the library and do your own research.


What do you currently do for work? 

I am Head of Project Management for a global healthcare solutions provider to the NHS. Mainly, our company handles staffing for the NHS, however, but we also provide services that NHS and private companies can utilise. I specifically work within elective care. We provide services that improve the patient flow in health system to reduce waiting times for people accessing elective care treatment.


You currently service as the co-captain of our UC UK Running Club. What made you want to get involved with this club? 

When I was a teenager, I suffered an ACL injury which I never fully recovered from despite having a few surgeries. In 2020, I had a fall and needed further surgery. I found a superb surgeon who rebuilt my knee and ACL and for the first time in 20 years, I can now run. I am not very fast – Larry very much takes the league in terms of distance and speed, but I hope I make up for it in enthusiasm!

I wanted to get involved with the alumni club in this way to hopefully provide an opportunity for students studying here and other UC alumni to get out and enjoy London, particularly London parks because they are so beautiful.


You’re in your mentorship group? 

I think at times, it can be challenging being an ex-pat. The UC Alumni UK group for the last several years, has been a big part of my community here in London. So, I think it is important to extend this option to people. I really enjoy being a support to other UC alumni and students here. I see it as a way for me to build a community and surround myself with likeminded individuals who genuinely believe in the importance of education.

I think the type of people that attend a UC, maybe they don’t always start that way, but they come out with minds that are expansive. After receiving such a diverse and robust education, I think that UC alumni tend to be a group that believe and value learning for their entire life.


Interview conducted on April 18th 2023 by Romy Stein.