Three-Time Islander Alumna Serving in Epicenter of COVID-19 Pandemic

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Braving the frontlines in the epicenter of the nation’s COVID-19 virus outbreak, three-time Islander alumna Dr. Ashley Hughes `11, `14, `18, is hard at work at Queens Hospital in Queens County, New York, as a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve as well as an adjunct faculty member of A&M-Corpus Christi’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences. Deployed on April 5, Hughes was given just over 24 hours’ notice to get to her assigned unit before wheels were up and off to aid first responders in need, leaving her family, friends, and home behind. No matter the sacrifice, her goal is to keep people healthy and safe.

“My kids have been with my parents since March 6, I haven’t been able to see them even before I was deployed because of where I work and the high-risk population that I work with,” said Hughes, who was working in Temple at the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System. “Knowing that I'm keeping my children safe has helped, but the bottom line is I got into nursing for this exact reason, to keep people safe – to go help and to be called upon when needed, and when I was called upon, I came ready, willing, and able.”

Earning her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Hughes earned the titles of Doctor of Nursing Practice, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, and Certified Family Nurse Practitioner. Serving as an adjunct and clinical faculty member at the Island University, Hughes teaches online courses, and believes the students that go through the nursing programs at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi are well prepared to deal with this unprecedented illness and the number of patients flowing through hospitals across the world today.

“If I got sick, I would be more than honored for any of my Islander students to take care of me or my family because I personally know the standards of the institution they are attending,” said Hughes. “I have all the faith in the world in them to be flexible and adaptive.”

 Reflecting on her time in New York City, Hughes says the experience is unlike anything she’s experienced before while working in the ICU. While every one of her patients has a confirmed case of COVID-19, they all remain optimistic. Amid the ever-growing number of patients, she credits the Island University for preparing her for whatever happens next.

“I could not have asked for a better set of mentors who were so willing to share their experiences with me throughout my journey,” said Hughes. “Completing the Family Nurse Practitioner program taught me advanced knowledge on the different body systems and how to look at things differently while managing these comorbidities and the sickest of the sick patients. That clearly set me up for success here in New York City.”