Ashley McMains is not only a nursing student; she's also a testament to resilience, compassion, and the power of determination. Graduating from The University of New Mexico College of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), McMains' journey has been marked by challenges and triumphs alike, shaping her into an exceptional individual ready to make a profound impact in the health care field.  

Throughout her academic tenure, McMains' commitment to excellence and service has been evident. Engaging in various leadership roles, such as serving as the Partnership Chair for Lobothon and Philanthropy Chair Officer for Student Nurses of America, McMains demonstrated her dedication to both her community and her profession. Her participation as a National Student Nurses of America delegate in Orlando, Fla., further highlighted her leadership potential and her ability to connect with fellow nursing students on a global scale. 

“My mom inspired me to continue to move forward and push through everything I've ever been through. She is the strongest person I know, and she is definitely my role model and the reason I am graduating today.” 

Ashley McMains, College of Nursing

However, Ashley's inspiration to pursue nursing runs deeper than just academic accolades. Growing up with a nurse practitioner for a mother, McMains found her role model and source of strength early on. It was her mother's unwavering resilience and compassion that ignited Ashley's passion for nursing and set her on the path to making a difference in the lives of others. 

“My mom inspired me to continue to move forward and push through everything I've ever been through. She is the strongest person I know, and she is definitely my role model and the reason I am graduating today,” said McMains.

Ashley McMains | College of Nursing

Despite facing personal tragedies, including the loss of her grandmother and stepfather, and even experiencing her apartment catching fire during her final year, McMains' determination remained unshaken. Supported by her family, friends, and her unyielding faith, she persevered through the darkest of times, emerging stronger and more determined than ever. 

“I've persevered,” said McMains. “And the only person I can thank at the end of the day is God, because He definitely had my back when I've gone through some tough times. Graduating in May is not only for me-  but for my mother and my sister, and for my stepfather who I lost, for my grandmother who won't get to see me graduating –  and for those who've been rooting for me up above and here on earth.” 

McMains' nursing journey has been marked by moments of profound connection and impact. One such moment occurred during her clinicals when she became the lifeline for a Spanish-speaking patient in labor. As the only Spanish speaker among the nurses on staff that day, Ashley was able to bridge the gap between language barriers and ensure the patient received the care and understanding she deserved. 

“After (the patient) gave birth and had her child, she was overjoyed,” McMains said. “She told me how appreciative she was that someone was able to understand her, that she was able to say what she had to say in her native tongue. Relaying that information from provider to patient was a really memorable moment.”  

Looking ahead, McMains plans to continue her academic pursuits by applying to the Doctorate Nurse Practitioner (DNP) program with a focus on pediatric nursing, a testament to her enduring commitment to serving others.  

For current and aspiring students facing obstacles, McMains offers sage advice: embrace challenges, get involved, and never underestimate the power of resilience and community support. 

“You're only in college once, so go out and make those connections, make those friends. School is hard, but everyone is going through it, and it helps to go through it together. You want to be able to look back and look at all these accomplishments that you've done regardless of everything you've been through,” McMains said. 

As McMains prepares to graduate, she reflects not only on her own accomplishments but also on the journey that has led her here. For her, graduation is not just a personal achievement but a tribute to the unwavering support of her loved ones and a reminder to pause, appreciate the present, and look ahead at the joys to come.  

“When I got into nursing school, I was already focused on graduating and the next thing," McMains said. "I didn't really celebrate the accomplishment of getting in. Now, I am here, I made it, I’m graduating – so I’m going to sit back and appreciate what I've already done. The future is bright, and right now I want to take a moment and smell the roses.”