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ROANOKE- When Marilyn Herbert-Ashton moved to Franklin County in April, 2001, she was taking a chance; leaving behind all she had made for herself as the director of a hospital based wellness center in upstate New York, she was looking to pursue new goals and challenges. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she started her career by becoming a registered nurse at Frankfurt Hospital, and later received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Holy Family College. She has worked as a staff nurse in critical care, medical-surgical nursing and obstetrics. After graduating from College she moved to New York to continue her studies at Syracuse University. While pursuing a master’s degree in Nursing, she worked as a adjunct clinical faculty member at Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua, NY, and worked part-time as a staff nurse at F. F. Thompson Health System. Canandaigua, NY. After receiving her master’s degree, Herbert-Ashton worked in Education and Training at Thompson Health. She was quickly promoted as the director of the wellness center and began working developing programs within the center. “It’s one of the great things about getting an education in nursing,” she says. “There are so many paths and avenues you can go down in your career; the possibilities are almost endless.” One of her first assignments was writing a business plan for the implementation of integrated complimentary medicine program, which brought ‘alternative’ modalities such as massage, chiropractic work, and acupuncture to the center. She also became instrumental in writing numerous grant proposals for the wellness center, including starting programs for patients and employees alike. “Our goal was to make the community healthier. Many people see hospitals as a ‘treat ‘em and street ‘em’ mentality. We wanted to teach our patients to embrace and live a healthy lifestyle, thus avoid or reducing hospital admissions,” says Herbert-Ashton. “It was also important that our employees were staying healthy.” In 2001, after years of living in the bitter cold of upstate New York, she decided it was time for a change. “Sometimes in life you need to make a decision,” she says. “You can either stay the same or make a change, we decided to take the latter and I am glad we did.”


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Settling in Franklin County in April, Herbert-Ashton remained an adjunct instructor, teaching Nursing Pharmacology with Finger Lakes Community College through a distance learning program, co-authored a Nursing Pharmacology text, and began independent nursing education and wellness consulting. She soon found a job teaching nursing classes at Virginia Western Community College. Due to her background, the college asked for her help in writing a grant through the Department of Labor addressing the shortage of nurses in and around the community. Soon thereafter, President of Virginia Western, Dr. Robert Sandel, established a new position, which Marilyn successfully interviewed for and became the first Coordinator of Grant Development and Special Projects. The purpose of this position was to develop strategies to gain additional funding for the college through grants. “It was essential that Virginia Western began seriously pursuing a variety of grants that could have a positive impact on specific programs and services,” says Dr. Sandel. “When I interviewed Marilyn for the position it was very evident that she understood community colleges and possessed the communication, writing, and management skills necessary to make this position an important aspect of the college operation. We now have, due to her leadership, grants being developed from almost every division of the college.” Dr. Sandel concludes, “Marilyn is a ‘doer’. She doesn't wait for things to happen she makes them happen. It has been pleasure to work with her since my arrival at Western. She was the first person I hired and she continues to amaze me with her energy and enthusiasm for any assignment or task assigned to her.” Herbert-Ashton is a volunteer at the Franklin County YMCA and is working with her church, Franklin Heights Baptist Church to start a Wellness Ministry. HerbertAshton’s family also likes southwest, Virginia. Some members of her family as well as her husband’s have already moved here, and others are planning to move here in the near future. ###


Marilyn Ashton Profile  

Published, Smith Mountain Eagle. Wednesday, December 12, 2007.

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