Veterans Day Student Spotlight – Meet Ashley Robles
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m originally from Maryland – the surrounding Baltimore city area. I grew up with two sisters and have a half brother. When I turned 18 I did a semester in college. That didn’t work out. I botched my first semester of college. I had no discipline. I had no real direction. I was hanging on to that phase of the beginning of adulthood and freedom. So I joined the Marine Corps. I joined for multiple reasons. I was out of shape. I felt weak. I wanted to see the world. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to do something with my life. I wanted to make my mark.
Where were you deployed? In which parts of the world have you worked while serving?
After I joined the Marine Corps, I ended up in Okinawa, Japan for a couple years. I was a fiscal clerk and I handled my unit’s money. I signed up for Marine Security Guard and with that you work at embassies throughout the world. I got stationed in Africa, Thailand, and France. I really got to travel. It was nice.
Why did you choose to enroll in college after serving in the military?
When it came time for me to get out of the Marine Corps, I thought I knew what I wanted to do. I thought I’d apply to a university in Paris and go back to France, live there and go to school to study international affairs then work for the government. But, when I got out I realized maybe I want to work with animals. I started looking and saw that I couldn’t afford vet school so I started looking for a veterinary technician program. I had moved to California for my fiancé. He was living out here and going to school. I then found out I was pregnant.
What made you choose Carrington specifically?
I saw Carrington and saw that it was perfect for me. I’d only have to drive 15 minutes and when I went to the campus I saw the program was already pre-laid for you. They give you your books; they give you your courses. Everything is right there. They even had some classes I could take online in my program. I thought well, Carrington is perfect.
Was it difficult to take classes while you were pregnant?
I started my first term five months pregnant. I just got bigger and bigger. I would still go to my externships and do what I needed to do with my big old belly. When my water broke on a Sunday evening, I let my instructor know I might not be in class the next day. I missed the rest of the week then went back to class and did my final. I stuck with it. Then I took a break for a month and a half to spend time with my son. Then I started back up. There was only one term that I haven’t made honors.
What sparked your interest in the Veterinary Technology program?
I’ve always loved dogs. I grew up with dogs my entire life. I have always had a passion for horses. When I was in Africa, as hot as it was, I would run to the stables just to take the horses some carrots and spend time with them. You have to figure them out; we don’t speak their language. You see these animals that need help and that need a voice. I wanted to give the voiceless a voice. I realized after embassy duty that I didn’t want to work in politics. It would have been an interesting life but it wasn’t what I wanted in the end.
Can you tell me about your externship experience?
Term 4 I went to extern at Animal Specialty Group at Specialty Emergency Hospital. I had been eyeballing it for about six months. I was talking to Sandee [Director of Career Services] about it. I asked her what she knew about it and that I wanted to apply there for my externship. I wasn’t sure if I was ready. Sometimes I have a little doubt, and think, am I ready for it? She made a phone call and said she had a student interested and thought I’d be a good fit. Next thing I know I’m an extern at ASG. After I finished my externship they offered me a job. Here I am working at Animal Specialty Group, getting a ridiculous amount of experience. I’m utilizing everything and then some of what we learned.
We heard you recently got some good news.
My husband has to go to Arizona for aviation school. I started looking for jobs in Arizona and I applied to the only emergency hospital in the area. I sent the manager my resume and she loved my Marine Corps background, she loved that I worked at an emergency and specialty hospital. She asked me if I’d be interested in the shift manager position. I thought – “Wow – I can’t believe I’m already moving so far up!”
Was there any faculty or staff at Carrington who made a big difference in your time there?
Everyone that I interacted with on a consistent basis was great, nobody shuts the door in your face. No one has ever said, “Well, you’re not ready.” Even if you’re having trouble with something they say, “You’ve got this.” I told one of my instructors about how they offered me a supervisor position. She told me that even though I’ve never done it before in the vet tech field, to just do it because I’ll learn it. When I told Sandee, she was in tears because she was so proud. It’s a great feeling to see that my hard work is paying off.
Who in your life has supported you the most?
I have a great support group. My husband is amazing. Whenever I’ve needed to get homework done he would watch our son and keep the little monster at bay when I studied. I’ve also had help from my mother-in-law during finals and midterms.
What do you do on Veterans Day? Do you have a ritual or tradition for observing the holiday?
Honestly, I would say my tradition for almost every Veterans Day or any holiday, has been to work. One thing the Marine Corps has taught me is to work the shifts no one else is willing to take. I, like many others, have missed holidays or celebrated them in our own way. So if I need to work on this holiday I will, because there are those that don’t have the choice.
What advice would you give to former members of the military interested in returning to school?
Take advantage of the GI Bill® and do something you love.
[GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.]
How do you envision your life a couple years from now?
The sky is the limit. There’s no real way of telling because there is no real way for me to stop going up.
Read our other Veterans Day spotlights here.