Kent State Ashtabula Nursing Students Follow in Their Mother’s Footsteps

Most children get inspiration from their parents. But, in 1994, when Sharon Barber, ’94, graduated from Kent State University at Ashtabula with a degree in nursing, she had no idea that her

Pictured from left to right are Scott Barber (father), Sharon Barber (mother), Molly Barber (daughter), Phyllis McClure (grandma) and Matt Barber (son). Photo credit: Heather Martello, Martello Photography
education and career choice would have such an impact on her own children. But it did, and it is leading to a family legacy of helping others.

Growing up, siblings Matt Barber, ’18, and Molly Barber watched their mother do what she loved every day, and they wanted to follow in that tradition. The obvious choice to them was Kent State Ashtabula’s Nursing Program.

As each child got involved at Kent State Ashtabula, Sharon Barber was excited that they would remain home with her and her husband, Scott, while furthering their education.

“Sharon was a model student, she was conscientious and was always positive and caring,” says Kent State Ashtabula Dean and Chief Administrative Officer Susan J. Stocker, Ph.D. “It’s heartwarming to see her children following in her footsteps.”

“We were already aware of the amazing experience they would have while studying locally at Kent State Ashtabula,” Sharon Barber says.

Sharon’s son Matt Barber graduated this past spring with a nursing degree.

“It’s a privilege to work as a nurse and enjoy what I do every day, just like she does,” Matt Barber says.

Matt Barber says his prime focus in life was the field of nursing, and it showed. While at Kent State, Matt Barber was the president of the Student Nurses Association and a student ambassador for the nursing program.

“When I graduated, I was chosen by my colleagues to earn the Nursing Spirit Award, and my faculty chose me for the Faculty Choice Award,” he says. These awards emphasize a student’s motivation, perseverance and overall spirit of nursing.

Sharon’s daughter Molly Barber, junior nursing major at the Ashtabula Campus, followed in her mother and brother’s sensible-nursing-shoe footsteps with the same passion and commitment revealed in the growing Barber family legacy.

“I became passionate about nursing when I realized the impact it made to those in need,” Molly Barber says.

Sharon Barber works in the emergency department at Ashtabula County Medical Center, and her passion for nursing is evident and comes easily to her.

“There is nowhere else you get so much respect and complete gratification for a job well done,” Sharon Barber says.

Helping Matt and Molly Barber has inspired Sharon Barber to join a program called Shared Governance and teach Start With Heart. Both programs are provided to staff at Ashtabula County Medical Center to help them through the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

“I would like to think that my passion for nursing helped my children choose this path they are on,” Sharon Barber says, “though I was just trying to raise my family the best I could.”

“She is an amazing role model in all aspects of life,” Molly Barber says. “She inspires us every day and makes us strive to be the best version of ourselves we can be.”

Having two students at home was a joy to Sharon Barber, but she explains that it does alter the DNA of the house.

“A house full of nurses equals lots of books, care plans, proper lighting in convenient places to read and study, pens everywhere for easy access and not to mention – all the white scrubs,” Sharon Barber says.

Molly Barber will be graduating with an associate degree in nursing in spring 2020.

Matt Barber works at Ashtabula County Medical Center on a medical-surgery floor that specializes in neurological deficits and is continuing his education in nursing, specializing to become a nurse anesthetist.

A phrase often uttered on the Ashtabula Campus resonates with this family: “Nursing is not just a job, it is who we are,” Sharon Barber recalls.

For more information about the nursing program at Kent State Ashtabula, visit

POSTED: Tuesday, November 13, 2018 02:42 PM
UPDATED: Thursday, December 08, 2022 07:57 AM
Samantha Abraham