Motlow Profile: Ashley Donaldson, Nursing graduate

Ashley Donaldson

The “True Grit” of Ashley Donaldson, Motlow State Nursing graduate, adult learner

Ashley Donaldson, recent Motlow State Community College nursing graduate, is the definition of true grit. Google “true grit” and you get this: “A gritty person is one who tends to stick to their goals despite numerous issues, problems, setbacks and failures. The person has firmness of mind and unyielding courage. The synonyms of true grit are: fortitude and determination.” 

The Motlow success story of Ashley, a 30-year-old, single mother of three, is truly one of fortitude and determination.

In June 2016 Ashley received her letter of acceptance to the Motlow nursing program. That same week, she discovered she was pregnant with her third child. Undaunted by the pregnancy, Ashley was firm in her resolve to get her nursing degree in two years.

She came up with a plan, and put it into action. “When I decided to go to nursing school I had so many obstacles to overcome,” said Donaldson. “So I decided to treat school like it was my job. I scheduled myself to be at school 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on lecture days. Once lecture was over, I found a quiet place and studied until 4 p.m.” 

I believe that women are an incredible force to be reckoned with, and we have the power to dramatically change and shape healthcare. I want to be part of that!
— Ashley Donaldson

After lecture and studying she would pick up the kids from school and get them started on homework and studying, helping them as needed. Then dinner and baths. Then start the whole process over the next day.

One major obstacle she faced was her unexpected pregnancy. Her due date was five days after her last clinical. She worried if the baby came early, she could miss the clinical and not finish the semester. She delivered on a Thursday, only one day early. While recovering in the hospital she studied for a test on the following Monday, which she successfully took. She was not to be denied!

Throughout her two years of nursing school, however, Ashley never lost focus on her family. Her grit gave her strength to be the mother she wanted and needed to be while keeping up with her studies. Although there were times when she missed her kid’s soccer or basketball games, she spent as much time with them as possible to, as she puts it, “soak up every ounce of love and motivation that I could to get rid of the mommy guilt that comes along with not spending much time with your kids.”

According to Ashley, “There are so many challenges non-traditional students face, such as finding childcare, the money for childcare, hoping your car will last, money for food and mortgage, not having access to the internet, having clinicals that are an hour and a half away from home, finding time to study; and the list goes on.”

She met each challenge head-on, planning her work and then working her plan. She hung a big calendar in her living room so she could see it constantly. She literally counted down everything she did to make time for her own studying. She did dozens of pages of clinical paperwork every week during her oldest son’s basketball practices. To stay motivated, she listened to podcasts while in the shower. She posted motivational quotes everywhere to keep herself going. She took yoga to stay grounded. Despite the obstacles she encountered, she always kept her eye on the prize; her degree from Motlow State Community College.

Ashley will begin working at Centennial Medical Center at the end of June in the Cardiac Special Care unit. She is also starting work on her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Tennessee Tech University this fall, and hopes someday to work in women’s health. 

“I believe that women are an incredible force to be reckoned with, and we have the power to dramatically change and shape healthcare,” and she adds,” I want to be part of that!” 

Based on what she has accomplished so far in life, it is a pretty good bet that Ashley Donaldson will do just that.