Even as a kid, Ashley had a disposition toward helping people, but she didn’t always know how best to apply that selflessness. A conversation with a teacher during her freshman year in high school gave her direction, and Goodwill Industries of Monocacy Valley gave her the fuel to maximize her desire to help others. The teacher made Ashley aware of GIMV’s Youth Career Development Program (formerly Transitions Youth Program), which helps students prepare to transition from high school to employment. She enrolled and participated throughout high school, working with GIMV to join a local assisted-living home as a volunteer assistant while simultaneously honing her job skills and plotting a future career path. As part of the program, GIMV’s pre-employment transition courses helped Ashley write her own resume and prepare for job interviews. These exercises helped her recognize her strengths and abilities, leading Ashley to research future career options before ultimately deciding to become a nursing assistant. “I just wanted to be helpful anyway I could,” she said. Ashley loved getting to know the patients and hearing their stories while volunteering at the assisted-living home, not to mention gaining invaluable, real-world experience that helped her develop confidence, patience and perseverance. Competency in those three areas represent fundamental traits in people that work in the medical field, and she would need those characteristics to earn certification and thrive as a nursing assistant. “If I could use one word to describe Ashley, it would be perseverance,” said her job coach. Ashley won GIMV’s Graduate of the Year award in 2017, but little did she know she’d have to demonstrate that perseverance in a different type of classroom setting. Like many professions in health care, nursing assistants must obtain certification by passing a rigorous exam. Ashley failed on her first try. She proved her resiliency by seeking a tutor and, boosted by encouragement of her parents, teachers and friends, she passed the test on her second attempt. Ashley has pushed herself to succeed and take control of her own career path.