Ashley Albritton sits down at her kitchen table each night to study with her 13-year-old son, Mason.
As an added incentive to succeed, they also compete with one another to get the highest grades—Ashley at Pellissippi State Community College and Mason at Farragut Middle School.
At the end of the semester, their report cards hang side by side on the refrigerator.
Ashley Albritton is busy knocking out the prerequisites to apply for nursing school. She enrolled at Pellissippi State in 2013, with strong encouragement from her sister.
“It was just Mason and I, and I had been working in hospice and home health, just getting by,” she said. “My younger sister told me that I needed to get back into the world.”
Her sister also helped her apply to Pellissippi State.
“When I first got here, I felt like it was a joke for me to be in college,” said Albritton, “like I wasn’t worthy to be here. But now I feel like this is all a dream. My son tells me that college has given me back the light in my smile, the light in my eyes.”
Albritton was seated on the stage when President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden visited Pellissippi State on Friday, Jan. 9. She shook President Obama’s hand from her place in the front row.
She had hoped to give the nation’s president a memento: a hope chest her father had given her when she was a child. Into this box, throughout her life, she has placed scraps of paper that represent all of her hopes and dreams.
“I want to give that box to someone else. The truth is, I can never say thank you enough to all the people who have helped me. I just hope to pass on my story so that it can help some other young woman follow her dreams.
“I don’t need my dream box anymore, because all of my dreams are coming true.”
Friday afternoon, Albritton gave the hope chest, instead, to Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., who had featured her in his introductory speech earlier that day.
“Ashley is truly an inspiration, both to other students and to me,” Wise said. “She has a sincere heart, and through her strength and compassion, she proves, each day, that everyone can follow their dreams.”
Albritton hopes to become a medical missionary. She believes that her purpose is to give back and to serve. When she graduates from Pellissippi State, she hopes to go on to earn her bachelor’s degree and then a master’s to be an advanced nurse practitioner.
For more information about Pellissippi State’s academic offerings or its 40th anniversary celebration, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.