Ashley HigginBotham: Achieving Career Goals With DRS

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Ashley Higginbotham: Achieving Career Goals with DRS

This Ability Works Award Winner is pursuing her dream career with help from DRS

Since middle school, Ashley Higginbotham’s dream has been working with and caring for children. Now, she is a care teacher at Sacred Heart Early Learning Center in Charleston. Ashley connected with the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) for assistance in preparing for employment while in high school.

Ashley, a 2017 St. Albans High School graduate, has a learning disability and a speech impediment, according to DRS Senior Rehabilitation Counselor Veronica Bunch. Bunch helped coordinate work-based training to help Ashley to learn more about jobs in her chosen field and life skills training to help her to grow in her self-confidence.

Ashley participated in the early childhood development training program at Ben Franklin Career Center and went on to attend BridgeValley Community and Technical College, where she majored in early childhood education.

While Ashley is independent and hard-working, when it came time to look for a job, she was intimidated by the interview process because of her speech impediment. Ashley was afraid that employers would not understand what she was saying. Assistance provided through DRS helped Ashley to improve her interviewing skills.

After applying at Sacred Heart, Ashley’s hard work paid off, and she was thrilled to learn she had gotten the job because it was what she had always wanted to do.

According to Assistant Director Andrea Bias, care teachers at the Sacred Heart Early Learning Center provide a safe, clean and predictable learning environment for children from six weeks to 2.5 years old.

Bias explained that Ashley is a care teacher in an infant room where two teachers are assigned eight children, and Ashley is the primary caretaker of four of those children, ranging in age from six weeks to 14 months.

Her responsibilities include all aspects of taking care of those four children, including feeding them and changing diapers, throughout the workday, which can run from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Ashley describes herself as a caring person, an essential characteristic for her job because of the patience it can take to manage the day-to-day needs of four infant children.

For Ashley, her job is extremely rewarding. She thoroughly enjoys watching the children grow and develop, and she celebrates their milestones, like sitting up and crawling with them.

Bias feels that Sacred Heart is lucky to have Ashley as an employee. She’s a hard worker who is very responsible and a team player who does not complain.

Bias also gives Ashley credit for setting and reaching her goals.

So far, Ashley is most proud of completing her degree at BridgeValley. She would like to eventually further her education to advance in her field.

Bunch is proud of how much Ashley has grown since she began working with her as a high school student. She believes her positive attitude and passion for working with children will continue to help her move forward in the profession.

For Ashley, her road was not always easy. She is grateful to her family for supporting her through her challenges, and she is happy that she’s been able to accomplish such a big goal.

“I did face a lot of challenges, but now I have a career that I love and enjoy,” said Ashley.  

We can help you reach your employment goals! Connect with DRS today.

Ashley Higginbotham was selected as an Ability Works Award Winner in 2022. The annual Ability Works Awards honor one outstanding consumer from each of the agency’s six districts, coinciding each October with National Disability Employment Awareness Month.