Standout student finds her calling at MCC, thanks to MCC Foundation support

Ashley Smith didn’t always want to be a nurse. When she left Kansas City to head to Springfield for her freshman year at Missouri State University, she had her heart set on becoming a behavioral profiler for the FBI. She was studying psychology and criminology at MSU when a personal tragedy landed her in the hospital, keeping her away from school for so long that she was forced to withdraw from all of her classes and forgo her scholarships.

Still recovering from her injuries and dealing with the disappointment of the interruption of her educational pursuit, Ashley moved back to Kansas City for a fresh start. After taking on three part-time jobs to get back on her feet, she was enthusiastic about returning to college. This time, armed with inspiration derived from her recent experience as a hospital patient, Ashley decided she wanted to study nursing. She enrolled in prerequisite classes at Metropolitan Community College, and then began the A.A.S. Professional Nursing program at Penn Valley, earning high grades and a spot on the honor roll right away.

After taking out a loan to get started with her first semester, Ashley heard from an instructor about scholarships offered by the MCC Foundation, and she eagerly applied. She has since earned three substantial scholarships, including two from the MCC Foundation and one from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She received the Wright-Seburn Scholarship and the Christy Simpson Nursing Scholarship for maintaining a high GPA in her nursing studies and this semester she was awarded the HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration Scholarship, which is given to qualified nursing students who exhibit financial need.

Ashley says receiving this financial support has given her the freedom to focus more on school and less on working multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet. And, she credits her experience at MCC with clarifying her career goals: after she graduates from MCC in May, she hopes to begin working as a pediatric nurse at Children’s Mercy Hospital. The faculty-led patient care simulations at the Health Science Institute’s Virtual Hospital have really prepared her well for work in a true clinical environment, Ashley says. She has already been accepted to Missouri State University’s bachelor of science in nursing program and will begin taking online classes this fall. After she earns her B.S.N., she plans to enroll in the university’s master of science in nursing program. Her ultimate goal, after working as a nurse and gaining valuable clinical experience, is to become a nursing instructor. Where? At MCC.

“I have loved my time here. The teachers are so focused on helping the students make it,” Ashley said. “I would really like to come back and be able to do for other students what my nursing teachers have done for me. I love the community college!”

Ashley Smith is not only a scholarship recipient but she is a true scholar. She balances the demands of a full course load, a nearly full-time job and participation as a student leader on two MCC committees—all while maintaining a 3.6 GPA and making the dean’s honor roll every semester.

Ashley and students like her are the reason that the MCC Foundation exists: to provide financial assistance to bright, promising leaders of the future. For information about the MCC Foundation, including the 2012 Five Star Gala on March 29, and to learn how you can help support scholars like Ashley Smith, visit the foundation’s web site.