5 questions with…engineering student, Ultimate Frisbee enthusiast Ashley Gan

As Ashley Gan prepares for her last semester at Case Western Reserve University (she’s graduating in August), she’s already a bit nostalgic. After all, she has seven years full of memories to reflect on, first as an undergraduate student, earning her diploma in 2010, and now as a graduate student, working toward her master’s degree in materials science and engineering.

Throughout her CWRU career, the Kettering, Ohio, native has been heavily involved in both academics and athletics. Aside from her research (her thesis is titled “TEM and CBED Techniques for the Study of Point Defect Structure of Single Crystal YAG Scintillators”), she chaired this year’s John S. Diekhoff Award for Graduate Teaching and Mentoring committee, was a member of Graduate Student Senate and was the treasurer of the Graduate Materials Society.

In addition, she played volleyball for the Spartans for two years as an undergraduate student—her dad was part of the Malaysian National Men’s Volleyball team, “so, of course, his offspring would need to follow in his stead,” she said—before finding her passion: Ultimate Frisbee. She played for CWRU’s Fighting Gobies for five years and also captained Cleveland’s women’s club team, Notorious CLE, and served as secretary for the Cleveland Disc Association.

As she prepares for life after Case Western Reserve, Gan is unsure exactly where she’ll end up (she hopes to find a job in Seattle, Chicago or right here in Cleveland), but wherever it is, one can be certain a Frisbee—and plenty of Alumni Association activities—will follow.

Learn more about her in this week’s “5 questions with” feature.

1. What superpower would you most like to have?
Without a doubt, I would fly. Think how much time you could save if you could just sprout some wings at will and fly to and from work?

2. What’s your favorite place to dine in Cleveland?
Oh man, this is a hard one—I truly do enjoy my food… You’ve got to love the milkshakes at Tommy’s on Coventry, Tree Country Bistro on Coventry Road has the best country pad thai in town, and Seoul Garden in Parma is just about the most fantastic place to go for group meals.

3. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I really, really wanted to be on the USA National Volleyball team and go to the Olympics, but then I realized that’s not a real job…

4. What accomplishments are you most proud of—personally and professionally?
Personally, building up Case’s women’s ultimate program. When I started playing my freshman year, there were six of us (seven are on the field at a time) and it was considered a success if we scored any points against the other team. My fifth year, we came within one point of making it to College Nationals—something only 16 out of 250-plus college teams get to participate in every year. We didn’t have the huge budget or coaching staff that some of the bigger schools like OSU or Michigan have, but we all worked our butts off and fought our way to the top.

Professionally, getting to where I am now. When I first started as an undergrad I had no idea what I was doing or where I would go. I have a much better idea of what I want in life and what I’m capable of because of being a grad student here at CWRU.

5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve University?
CWRU has proven to be the perfect place for me, so it’s hard to pick just one thing. I suppose it’s the atmosphere here. Everyone is driven and has the potential to be very successful, but they’re not hyper competitive with each other. The programs here are some of the best in the nation, but no one is stealing research or treading over others to get to the top. People are nice and welcoming here—I’ll be sad to go.