MARIETTA, OHIO (October 18, 2018)— There was a huge sigh of relief when Ashley Jenkins got word that her son didn’t have cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time. Yet it was through this tragic event that she discovered a career path and developed a passion for a job that has earned her recognition as Washington State Community College’s October Student of the Month.
Two and a half years ago, Jenkins was celebrating the birth of her beautiful baby boy. Life was going as she planned until the hospital contacted her about a concern they had with her son’s cystic fibrosis blood screening. As they endured continued testing, Jenkins was told her son would be working with a respiratory therapist. In an attempt to understand the services the therapist would be providing, Jenkins began doing research. The more she learned about the care provided by a respiratory therapist, the more she was intrigued by the career.
Fortunately, it was determined that Jenkins’ son is only a carrier of the cystic fibrosis gene and doesn’t have the disease. However, from the scare came a positive, Jenkins discovered she wanted to pursue a career as a respiratory therapist.
As a full-time student, the mom of two admits balancing school and home life can be challenging, and many around her didn’t believe it was possible. However, she credits her success to strong time management skills.
Dr. Rob Kinker, Director of the Respiratory Therapy also credits her accomplishments to her willingness to help her classmates. “She’s engaged in the classroom and really wants her fellow students to do well.”
Respiratory Care Week is Oct. 21-28, Jenkins and her classmates will be checking students, faculty and staff pulse oximetry, a test to measure oxygen levels in the blood.