Our Scholar in Spain

Ashley Chainani '20 found herself at USC Marshall. And she'll soon find herself in Spain on a Fulbright Scholarship

May 14, 2020

Ashley Chainani BSBA ’20 is an idealist—which is exactly what the world needs right now.

“Regardless of what path I take, I know for sure I want to make the world a better place. If I can eliminate even one major problem in the world, I’d say that that’s a dream that I fulfilled,” she said. “I know it sounds idealist, but my idealism has gotten me to where I am very happily today — so I think I’ll stick with that.”

Chainani might not have made that statement so assuredly four years ago. “Before I came to USC, I was super shy, and I think that really held me back,” she said. “But my experience at Marshall and USC transformed me into a tougher and more confident leader.”

A Forbes Under 30 Scholar, Chainani recently received another prestigious honor: a 2020-2021 Fulbright Award to Spain. “I will serve as an English teaching assistant and explore how Spain's educational system allows for intergenerational socioeconomic mobility,” she said.

Fluent in Spanish (and Hindi), Chainani served as a bilingual teacher's assistant volunteer with Joint Educational Project (JEP) and as president of the Spanish Undergraduate Student Association, connecting students with volunteer programs and hosting daily conversation tables for 700 students to practice Spanish. She also served in various leadership roles with the Undergraduate Student Government. 

A Forbes Under 30 Scholar, Chainani recently received another prestigious honor: a 2020-2021 Fulbright Award to Spain.

While at USC, the Houston, Texas, native met her hometown hero. After a long day of classes and recruitment events, she walked out of Fertitta Hall and recognized Scott McClelland, president of H-E-B. “Texans are obsessed with H-E-B because they have the best quality groceries and are highly involved in philanthropy in Texas. So Mr. McClelland is a Texas hero,” Chainani said. 

Marshall wrote about Scott McClelland, a Marshall alumnus, during the 2017 Houston flood.

She introduced herself, and they talked for a while. She learned McClelland was on campus as a guest speaker in a graduate class—and that he’s a Marshall Trojan. “That is definitely a moment I’ll never forget,” she said. 

After her Fulbright experience, she plans to pursue a JD/MBA with a goal of getting into public policy work. “I think that laws and regulations are the best way to implement permanent change. You can help people immediately, but to get to the root cause of the issues, the law is a great way to influence change in a society,” she said. She also thinks about starting a nonprofit and running for public office.

“My biggest takeaway from my time at USC was: Enjoy every moment, even the tough ones,” Chainani said. “Those moments, they don’t come back. I learned not to waste time longing for the past or looking forward but truly live in the moment.”