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Sara Ashley

They say mothers wear many different hats that often include those of accountant, cook, and chauffer. This couldn't be truer for Motlow College student Sara Ashley of Smyrna.

Sara Ashley Not only is Ashley a mother and college student, she is an active duty soldier for the Tennessee National Guard, which is a full-time job, and is a single parent.

While this isn't exactly where Ashley thought she'd be at 25 years of age, she said she wouldn't change a thing and is making the most of the challenges and opportunities she has been given. Ashley took her oath and became a member of the Tennessee National Guard on Oct. 5, 2010.

"Pursuing a career in the military was something I had always wanted to do," she explained. "My dad had made a very successful career for himself. Seeing his success inspired me to do the same thing and see what I could make of it on my own."

After two years in the National Guard, Ashley is on active duty as a P4 specialist. With a successful military career in progress, she said she began to look for a new challenge and decided to pursue a college degree. She had heard about Motlow and decided to give the college a try.

"Not having gone to school for a number years, I wanted somewhere where I could ease into pursuing my education, and Motlow seemed perfect for just that," she said.

As ready as Ashley was to further her education, she also knew that it was going to be a transition and something else she would have to learn to balance in her busy life.

"It has definitely been overwhelming, but I'm focusing on my goal of doing well and obtaining my degree," she said. "The training I have received from the military has really benefitted me in the approach that I take to school. It has helped me be able to focus more and not be so overwhelmed by it all. It is very different when you are starting it all for the first time at the age of 24. I have a full-time job and am a full-time single mom, so I definitely have to focus."

Focus she does, with her typical day beginning with getting both her 5-year-old daughter Marli and herself ready for school. After dropping off her daughter at pre-school, Ashley makes the commute to Nashville to her job at the National Guard. After a busy day at work, she makes her way back to Smyrna, where she attends night classes at Motlow's Smyrna Center. Once class is over, she makes her way back home to spend a few precious moments with Marli.

"It's tough," she said. "Routine has played a huge part in helping with my transition to school along with support from family, my work place, and now Motlow. The faculty and staff have been great and made this whole new chapter in my life easier to manage."

Ashley is pursuing an associate of science degree in pre-med. With this major, she can pursue a career as a veterinarian, physician, or pharmacist.

"I'm not sure what field of medicine I want to head into, but I'm just excited to be pursuing a degree," she said. "I pursued this type of major because I have always been fascinated with the medical world. In the Guard I have been involved with the medical unit. When we train, we train with a lot of medical personnel, so it has been something I've become comfortable with and want to pursue."

She added that right now school is fun and she is enjoying all that it has to offer, and she wants other parents to know that they can "do it too."

"I know that this might sound like a cliché, but if I can, anyone can," said Ashley. "They might feel that it is impossible to juggle parenting, a job, and school all at once. But they truly have to want it and want to make it work."