LU nursing major Ashley Brown enjoys walking down path toward helping others
As she slowly walks the horse around the stable and turns to look at the child in the saddle, Ashley Brown realizes helping others, especially children, has always been part of her destiny. What started as a way to accumulate required service learning hours for the Lamar University nursing program has become Brown’s own personal therapy and passion. She finds that volunteering at Stable-Spirit is rewarding not only because she loves working with children and horses, but also because it is preparing her for a career in pediatrics.
For Brown, a senior nursing major from LaMarque, volunteering is only one of the many opportunities Lamar University has offered during her time as a student.
“The children at Stable-Spirit teach me how to be a more humble and appreciative person, and I feel completely centered and I am able to relax. One of the most memorable moments that really touched me was with a bright and very loving autistic child. I had the opportunity to work with this particular child for many hippotherapy sessions, and it was simply amazing to see this child flourish. The horse and the child connected on a level that was really spectacular and truly indescribable without witnessing it. By the end of the session, the autistic child was more sensory and motor focused and able to verbalize words that were previously just sounds,” said Brown.
She works as a sidewalker at Stable-Spirit, a non-profit organization in Rose City that assists children and adults with mental and physical disabilities through horse therapy. She helps with a treatment called hippotherapy, in which the child sits on the horse and the physical therapist instructs the child on what to do. The sidewalker provides support for the child as a horse handler leads the horse.
Brown is also involved in several nursing organizations and activities on campus. She is vice president of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing 2012 class and parliamentarian of the Lamar University chapter of the Texas Nursing Student Association.
She serves as a peer facilitator for the Caring Place in the JoAnne Gay Dishman Department of Nursing where she helps other nursing students with class material in small group sessions. Helping other nursing students also benefits Brown because reviewing the material helps her retain the information as well as prepare for tests.
“When you begin nursing school, it can be very overwhelming because you don’t know what to expect, and if you don’t complete everything that you need for the program, you could run into problems. I think it’s good to have someone who has been in that situation to be able to assist new nursing students. The Caring Place is a wonderful support system for all nursing students, and I am glad I get to be a part of it,” said Brown.
She credits the nursing program for allowing her to “come out of her shell” and form close friendships with other nursing students. When she was accepted into the nursing program, she joined a “family with some pretty awesome people.”
Although she looked at several colleges, she decided to attend Lamar after she toured the nursing building where current nursing students told her how much they loved the program and that they “wouldn’t trade it for the world.” She also thought the dorms were unlike any she had seen before.
She likes the small campus atmosphere and appreciates the professors at Lamar because their doors are always open and they will gladly help students with a school-related or even personal situation.
She credits her mother, a nurse, with encouraging her to work hard in school and inspiring her to help others and achieve her goals.
“My mom is my everything. She has been my cheerleader through not only my first year in the nursing program, but my whole college career,” said Brown.
After graduation, Brown plans to take the nursing certification exam and enroll in a pediatric nurse practitioner program to continue on her path towards working with children. She is thankful to have received scholarships from the McDaniel Charitable Foundation, Volunteers of Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital for academics, the Pioneering Women Foundation and the Jamaican Nurses Association.