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Career in nursing ahead for Hancock High senior

May 11, 2005 - She's always known that she wants to help other people when she grows up, but it wasn't until she was able to "job shadow'' local professionals as part of her curriculum at Hancock High School that Ash-ley Smothers' career came into focus.

"When I was younger I thought I wanted to be a pharmacist,'' Smothers said. "I did a job shadow and found that a little too boring. My history teacher Chris Ventimig-lia's wife is a neonatal nurse, so I decided to try that. So I job shadowed the night shift at Children's Hospital and I really enjoyed that, so that's what I'm pursuing.

"Nursing was more hands on,'' Smothers said. "I love babies, so when I went there it kind of touched my heart. Those little sick babies. I wanted to do something for them, but I wasn't certified yet, so ...''

Smothers remembers caring for her grandfather after his double-bypass surgery six years ago and the satisfaction she derived from knowing she helped him.

"He couldn't do anything for himself,'' she said. "It felt good to know I was helping, making a difference.''

Smothers will attend Deaconess College of Nursing on Oakland Avenue in St. Louis next school year. She is enrolled in the bachelor's degree program for four years.

"I would like the hospital environment more than anything else because it's more updated,'' she said. "Especially Children's. The people there were really friendly, the doctors there were really nice.''

Smothers, 18, wants to remain close to home throughout her career. The daughter of Elizabeth and Mike Musielak of Lemay, Smothers knows what she wants to do with her life.

"I want to stay here,'' she said. "I want to be working full time five years from now, hopefully making good money. I want to have a steady job. I plan to start a family. Down the road, I would like to go to part time so I can spend time with my kids.''

She believes Lemay offers a small-town environment in a big-city atmosphere.

"This is a small school,'' Smothers said. "I like that kind of thing because teachers know every kid by name and probably 90 percent of their backgrounds, where they come from, their personality.

"And I like that because its more of a one-on-one with every single one of your teachers. I can personally say that I've made personal friends with every one of my teachers. You don't get that at large schools. Everybody knows everybody and that's kind of nice. And yet, we're in a large city,'' she added.

Smothers believes her experience in science classes at Hancock will benefit her career pursuits.

"I've been really involved in science courses and liking it,'' Smothers said. "This year we're dissecting a cat and that doesn't really bother me like it does some of the other kids in physiology class.

"I figure that I'll be all right with some of the other stuff people think is gross when I have to take anatomy classes down the road,'' she added.

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