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For one Ashworth College director, saving lives comes in many forms

Written by Ashworth College on Thursday, 24 May 2018. Posted in Why Ashworth

For One Ashworth College Director, Saving Lives Comes In Many Forms

We’re not so different from the students we serve. Like them, we each have our individual goals, dreams, personal roadblocks, and vision for who want to be and where we want to go. Here at Ashworth College, we’re all about inspiring and enabling students to be their best selves, so we thought we’d share insights into what motivates our staff to GO BEYOND the ordinary and always—always—strive for more.

Director of Academic Operations Tonia Orr spent 17 years as a nurse before joining Ashworth College as an academic advisor in 2012. Tonia’s rapid rise to Director came as no surprise—especially to Tonia who tackles few things in life without a plan.

Q: Why did you decide to leave nursing?

A: The better question is, “Why did I decide to join Ashworth?” And the answer to that is while I was burnt out on the physical side of nursing, I wanted a career that had the same amount of impact and was just as life changing as nursing.

Q: And academic advising provided that?

A: 100%. Look, I’m very different from others in how I approach advising. Other health advisors say, “We’re saving lives.” I say it’s what you don’t learn or say that can kill someone. If you’re a pharmacy technician, the medicine has to be right. If you’re a medical biller or coder, how you code something can be life saving or life-threatening. What we teach our students here is important. They are the foundation for doctors and nurses to do their jobs. They need to see that in themselves.

Q: You were quickly promoted over a five-year period. Surprising?

A: Not at all. I came in with a five-year plan and if I hadn’t hit my goal I would have moved on. I think that’s a key to success—being willing to admit if something isn’t working and pivot accordingly. But my goal wasn’t just a title—I knew if I rose in the company I could impact not just external customers but our internal customers as well, which leads back out to a positive impact for our students if I do my job well.

Q: Is there a word that sums up why you “go beyond,” either for your team, yourself, or Ashworth College students?

A: Yes, that word is “service.” I believe my family was created to serve people. I come from a family of nurses—aunts, uncles, cousins. My brother served in the military. That’s who we are.

Personal Motto
My purpose is to help you understand the written complexities of man, for that time when you believe you cannot, your heart will say yes, you can.

Q: Do you have a role model?

A: My mother. She was a nurse raising two kids and now she has her PhD and teaches public health. She is my hero. When people say “You’re just like your mom,” I say, “Thank you!” My goal is to be half as good at what I do in my life as she is in her hers.

Q: You hit that 5-year goal. What’s next?

A: New goals. As I move forward, I’m grabbing the hands of people behind me and pulling them along. The more I reach my goals, the more people I can help reach theirs.

More about Tonia

Tonia is a doctoral candidate in Business Administration and received her Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. In addition, she received dual bachelor’s degrees in English literature and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh. As a nurse, Tonia practiced in public health, health education, HIV counseling, gerontology, and more. As the director of Academic operations at Ashworth College, Tonia subscribes to the business model and the health belief model to ensure the best outcomes for students.

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