From a young age, Ashley Terrebonne was encouraged by her parents to do well in school and push herself to pursue something challenging and fulfilling. The native of New Orleans started out at Southeastern Louisiana University as a biology major but started to reconsider early on.
“I remember talking to my family and being unhappy with the direction of my major, and once I switched to nursing, it just felt right,” says Ashley. She graduated with a BSN in 2010.
In 2011, Ashley started her career as a staff nurse on a telemetry unit, and then transferred to women’s services at Ochsner Medical Center, followed by labor and delivery in 2013. “I absolutely loved L&D and found my passion in nursing there,” she says. “I started taking on preceptor responsibilities and training new employees too. That’s when I realized that I really loved the idea of teaching.”
Progressing her career
While continuing to work in the hospital setting and gaining experience, Ashley returned to school for an MSN in Nursing Education in 2016. Two colleagues at Ochsner were teaching at the University of Holy Cross in the nursing program and encouraged Ashley to apply. “I reached out and told them I was enrolled in an MSN program and would graduate in a year, and I couldn’t believe it when I learned they actually had an opening teaching obstetrics,” she says. “Nursing education and labor and delivery are the two halves of my ‘nursing heart.’ It was almost too good to be true.”
A big dream: earning a doctorate
Ashley continued to work PRN in labor and delivery and has been teaching at the University of Holy Cross since 2017. In 2019, she moved into Ochsner Health’s employee health area, giving employee flu vaccinations and tuberculin tests. Most recently, she has participated in administering COVID-19 vaccinations to employees and to the public community, which she feels is very rewarding.
Even as a BSN student, Ashley admits that she had the doctorate in the back of her mind. “When I finished the MSN, I became a Certified Nurse Educator and I felt I was in a really good place,” she says. “But I like the learning process, and I love being able to pass on what I know to someone else. I moved into teaching for that reason.”
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Ashley’s school moved completely online and she felt the spark to do something more. “My youngest son was born in April 2020 and we were truly on lockdown and I was on the computer more than ever before,” she says. “I got this little itch to go back to school, as crazy as it was to even think about it.” She started researching programs and found American Sentinel’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Leadership.
An education-focused doctorate
“What really appealed to me about American Sentinel’s program was that it wasn’t generic; it was education-focused, and that is exactly what I wanted, as someone who wants to remain current with nursing practice, but also in nursing education.”
Even with two young boys and only a few years into teaching, Ashley was undeterred—and encouraged by her husband. “He has been on this entire journey with me, and has always supported everything I do. We are in a busy time of our lives, but it’s something I knew I wanted to do. I want to show my sons that they can accomplish anything with passion and dedication.”
Year of the Nurse Scholarship
After starting DNP Educational Leadership course work in summer 2020, Ashley applied for the Year of the Nurse Scholarship in the fall—and was elated to receive it. “It meant a lot more to me than receiving tuition help,” she says. “The Year of the Nurse was the year of the pandemic, and nurses have been one of the most impacted and frontline professions there is. I was at home with a baby when things started and did not work at the bedside, but it was so important to me to translate to my students to not be deterred about what they were seeing out there and to be proud to pursue nursing during this time.”
A personal accomplishment and more
Ashley says her intent with her doctorate—which she’ll complete in 2023—is to continue on her path. “I’m someone who always has a ‘next thing’ in mind, so the obvious next thing here is to possibly become an administrator one day, but I’m still making my path as an educator,” she says. “Along the way, I’d like to do important research and publish it. I’d like to network with others who share my passion and make an impact on the profession. I want to be a great educator. That’s what is on my mind right now.”
A recommended program
Ashley admits she never would have expected to one day become Dr. Terrebonne, and she’s grateful to American Sentinel to have arrived here. “I feel so great about where I am and have gotten great support along the way,” she says. “I would definitely recommend this program because the faculty have excellent experience and translate that into their teaching. That’s the kind of professor I strive to be myself.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” and American Sentinel celebrated by offering a Year of the Nurse Scholarship. Several scholarships were awarded per quarter in 2020. Congratulations to the fourth quarter recipients.
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