Ashley Smith credits HCTC for success in nursing career | HCTC

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Ashley Smith credits HCTC for success in nursing career

ashley smithAshley Smith graduated with an associate degree in nursing on May 4 during Hazard Community & Technical College's (HCTC) 10:00 a.m. commencement ceremony.

However, it was not her first time crossing the graduation stage — Smith first earned a licensed practical nurse (LPN) diploma from HCTC in 2008. 

"I decided to go back to school because it'd allow me to advance in the nursing field," Smith said. "The courses were similar in both programs, but we did a lot more hands-on activities."

As she prepares to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to become a registered nurse (RN) officially, Smith said she is grateful for her experience at the college. 

"I always had excellent instructors — and that goes for both my programs," Smith said. "I couldn't ask for better instructors." 

Prior to becoming an LPN, Smith became a certified nurse aide at Hazard Health and Rehabilitation Center in 2004. She has worked at the long-term care facility since then — and she plans to continue doing so. 

She completed the program at HCTC in 2008 before having her four children. During the commencement ceremony, in which she served as the student speaker, Smith's children watched with pride. 

"I did this for my kids," she said. "I want to encourage them and show them the importance of going to college." 

During the ceremony, Smith was also recognized as a president’s award recipient for her outstanding contributions to the college during her time as a student. 

Once Smith completes the NCLEX, she plans to pursue a bachelor's degree in nursing. She said she would take with her the lessons of hard work and perseverance she learned while in the nursing program at HCTC. 

"It doesn't matter how old you are or how long it's been," Smith said. "You can always better yourself." 

The associate degree nursing program equips graduates with the knowledge and skills to fulfill the role of a nurse. Over several semesters, the program’s curriculum introduces and develops core concepts in the field of nursing. These include using sound judgment in professional settings and inquiring to improve patient care quality. 

For more information about the program, contact Christina Martin, program coordinator, via phone at (606) 487-3279 or email