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Ashley’s Story

“I grew up in Perrin, Texas, a tiny, little country town. It was a pretty typical, mostly happy childhood. We might not have always had the nicest things, but we were raised knowing that we always had each other and that’s what really mattered.

My older step-sister was an LVN. She was my best friend. When I was 16-years-old, I was visiting her and I got really, really sick. One morning, after coughing all night long, I finally went to the ER. I was immediately admitted for bilateral pneumonia. I spent two weeks in the ICU.

On the day that I went home, my mom left to take my two little brothers to school. Normally, I would have been in the car with her, but I had stayed home to rest. The last thing I remember before falling asleep was asking my mom for a grilled cheese. I woke up to my dad telling me to get in the car, that my mom had been in a really bad car wreck.

She had swelling on her brain and had broken every single bone in her face.

I refused to leave my mother’s side. I quit high school and started homeschooling myself so I could spend every second in the hospital with her.

It was a horrible time in my life, but what I remember the most was how wonderful the nurses were. Seeing them care for first myself, then my mom, made such an impression on me that I knew I wanted to be just like them.

I had my first daughter when I was 17. I worked as an admin for more than 10 years. But I always knew my potential and never gave up on my dream of becoming a nurse.

I found out about Catholic Charities two years before I applied to the program. When I finally reached out, I was desperate. I was in my last semester at MSU and had fallen one point short on a test. I needed to repeat one of my classes, but had run out of money. After six years of school, I was about to lose everything I had worked toward. On top of everything, I was pregnant with my son, Gavin.

"My Navigator, LeeAnn, was an absolute angel. She walked me through what my program and the school actually offered – she even worked with Matthew Park, the Associate Vice President at MSU, to help me get a scholarship to cover my last semester."

Catholic Charities also helped me financially. They paid three months of our mortgage and daycare costs so that we could cover my remaining tuition. They also helped us with food when my husband had COVID and couldn’t work.

And, finally, LeeAnn made sure that I was taking care of myself. At one point, I was so tired and so stressed, she just handed me a gift card and said, “This is for you. Just relax and do something totally for yourself.”

My mother passed away from a brain aneurysm in 2017, which was probably from her car wreck. Outside of my husband, I don’t have any family around here. LeeAnn became like family to me.

I’ll never forget the time I called her, in tears, from a gas station. I was so stressed from school that I had run out of gas and didn’t have my credit card. I had no one else to call. LeeAnn met me at the gas station, in her personal car, and filled up my tank.

Without Catholic Charities, I honestly don’t know if I would have finished my program. And if I hadn’t finished, I don’t know here I would be. I try not to think about that.

Today, I’m working at United Regional as an Operating Room nurse. I had the job offer before I even graduated. It’s so rewarding to be a part of somebody’s story the same way that the nurses that treated my mom and me were for us.”

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