Although Jennifer Ashworth may not have always known what she wanted to do, she said she always knew she would need an education to get there.
“I didn’t have a definite goal growing up, which is something I’ve helped my children to develop,” she said, “but I’m very happy with where I’m at in my career at this time. It’s been a great journey to get here.”
Ashworth, 46, is employed at the Henry County Circuit Court clerk’s office as the lead deputy clerk, and she’s vying to be the new circuit court clerk. She announced her bid for office on March 6.
“I’ve always gravitated toward leadership positions, whether in my church or in other activities,” she said. “It’s just been my nature. I’m the lead deputy clerk, and you can only go so far. This is my chance to move forward in leadership. It’s something I always knew I would do in the Lord’s time if an opportunity became available.”
The journey of announcing her run and campaigning “has been a very positive experience,” Ashworth said. “The community has been very supportive, and I’m grateful for their encouragement. During this short period of campaigning, I’ve been able to find out many positive things about the community that I did not realize before.”
Ashworth graduated from PHCC in 1991, which also happened to be the year she was married. She admitted, it wasn’t always easy.
“I’m pretty sure my husband and I were the only married couple graduating together at that time,” she said. “I went to work at the courthouse in 1989, so in the process of planning my wedding, I was working and going to school full-time.”
Some of the professors who stand out to her at PHCC include Linda Gale and Toby Deal. She said she also took a few criminal justice courses when the program started to develop.
Ashworth grew up in Bassett in the Stones Dairy area, but has lived in Spencer for the past 24 years. She said she loves the beauty of Martinsville/Henry County and the potential of growth in the area.
Getting the position at the courthouse was happenstance for Ashworth. While she worked at Dominion Bank in Martinsville in 1989, she found out about a full-time job opening at the clerk’s office from one of the clerks who made deposits at the bank. There were more than 200 applicants for the job, “so I’m extremely blessed to have gotten the opportunity to go to work there 26 years ago. That was my first full-time job – my only full-time job.”
Starting off, Ashworth said her primary job consisted of jury management. She kept up with jury trials, handled jury selection and making sure they were paid. She also worked with statistics in the office and did some criminal work. Over the years, she gravitated completed toward the criminal side.
“You think you’ve seen just about everything in this job, but then the next case comes and you realize you can still be surprised,” she said. “I love my job, but sometimes it can be difficult – especially when children are the victims.”
Her favorite part of going to work every day is the working with the public.
“I love working with people,” Ashworth said. Even though most of the public I work with are the criminals of Henry County, it’s fulfilling. And my job is never the same on any given day. It’s something different and new, and it constantly keeps my interest. There’s never a dull moment in the criminal department.”
Education is the key to future success, according to Ashworth. “I think now more than ever, we have to pursue higher education than a high school diploma. I would tell everyone to set their goals high, never give up and to work hard. Hard work always pays off.”