Homeward Bound: Young Professionals Find There’s No Place Like Home to Start a Career
Some say you can’t go home again while others argue there’s no place like it. These six area young professionals would vouch for the latter. What will the future hold? No one can predict. However, if these young men and women are any indication, the future of the area looks bright.
Jane Ann Norris Goodwin Teacher
Like many new graduates, Jane Ann Norris Goodwin wasn’t sure about returning home after college. But after meeting Brent Goodwin, also from Ashland, while they were students at the University of Kentucky, home started calling. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2009 and considered staying in the Lexington area. However, Brent, who obtained a degree in plant and soil science from UK, was offered the opportunity to come back home and work in his family’s business, Goodwin Excavating. So back home it would be.
Now the 24 year old said she couldn’t be happier. She is a first grade teacher at Poage Elementary School and she and Brent were married in October 2011. Her father, J.T. Norris, is an investment advisor with Hilliard Lyons in Ashland and her mother is a nurse at King’s Daughters Medical Center. Norris Goodwin is working on her master’s degree in educational administration through Morehead State University. “And I’m also learning to cook and be a wife,” she said with a laugh.
Being involved in the community isn’t new to Norris Goodwin. She is a 2005 graduate of Ashland Paul G. Blazer High School and was on the cheerleading squad and “just about every other activity they offered,” Norris Goodwin added. “I really enjoyed my time in high school.” These activities kept her busy and she felt that was a good thing. “I always thought that Ashland was a great place to live and grow up,” she said.
“If you want to be involved (in the community) there is a lot to be involved in,” Norris Goodwin said. “There are church activities and many great causes to participate in.” In fact, for Norris Goodwin, church activities included meeting a husband. “I actually met Brent for the first time in church, but we were really little and I don’t remember it, but that was what he said to me when we first met in college, that we had gone to church together as kids.”
Norris Goodwin is happy to be home. “I hope to start a family here,” she said, adding, “I like that I have my friends and family around me, people who know me and know our family…they know our history.”
Devon Reams-Howell Lawyer
Jeremy Howell Teacher
Not long ago, Ashland, Ky., native Devon Reams-Howell was living near the beach in Jacksonville, Fla., soaking up the sunshine. She had finished law school at the Florida Coastal School of Law and she and husband Jeremy were planning their future. “We loved Florida and really had no intention of coming back home,” Reams-Howell said.
After reviewing the job market in the sunshine state, the couple realized that there were many more opportunities back home. “The job market there was flooded,” Reams-Howell said. “We are both very close to our families and realized we wanted to be physically close to them too.”
Reams-Howell, 27, is now practicing law with Campbell Woods Attorneys & Counselors at Law in Ashland while Jeremy teaches special education at Poage Elementary School. The two have known each other since grade school, though they attended separate schools. “We were something of an item in grade school,” Reams-Howell laughed. Later they graduated together in 2003 from Ashland Paul G. Blazer High School and remained friends through college, though they again found themselves at separate schools (she attended Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky., and he was at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Ky.). “We would still see each other because we had the same group of friends and it just turned into a relationship,” Reams-Howell said.
Reams-Howell is happy to call Ashland home again. “We both have great support systems here and we get to see our family more,” she said. Family has had a strong influence on her life too. Reams-Howell’s mother, Mary Beth, is a nurse with Fresenius Healthcare and her father is district court judge Gerald Reams Jr. “Dad got me involved in teen court back in high school and I really enjoyed it,” she said. The teen court program gives high school students an active look into the judicial process.
Life isn’t all about law for Reams-Howell. She enjoys traveling out of town for a UK or Bengals game, but when it comes to the future, Ashland is where it’s at. “This is a great place to raise a family, not anytime soon, but eventually,” she said. “Having that support system is important; you want your kids to know their family, their cousins.”
The Howells may have traded the Atlantic Ocean for the Ohio River, but it was the right decision for them. “There are so many positives here,” she said. “It’s not a big city but we’ve done as well here as we would anywhere else.”
Nancy Carter Mussetter, DMD Dentist
Nancy Carter Mussetter, DMD, took her time deciding where she was going to settle down. The 31-year-old Ashland native and 1999 graduate of Russell High School had married fellow Russell alum, Evan Mussetter, finished dental school at the University of Louisville and was making plans for her future. “We spent many years while in school discussing where we wanted to live and decided we couldn’t beat coming back here for raising a family,” Carter Mussetter said. “Then we found out I was pregnant and that made the decision final.”
Now Carter Mussetter has the convenience, love and assistance of her family to help with her 15-month-old son Gunther. This benefit of home is one Carter Mussetter sees as priceless. “We wanted to be close to our family and have that involvement,” she said. “My mom is home with Gunther during the day and loves having that time with him.” She and Gunther are living with her parents, Nick and Mary Carolyn Carter, until she and her husband find a house. “Mom is making me breakfast still, so I’m not looking too hard,” she joked.
Carter Mussetter is not without her fair share of kids during the day. She recently joined the practice of Pediatric Dentistry at 2000 Carter Avenue in Ashland. “It really interested me to be able to join a practice that was so well established,” she explained. “Many of the parents had been patients here too.” As a former camp counselor, Carter Mussetter has a way with children. “I tend to act like a kid and think kids are so much fun,” she said. “I have a lot of patience with kids and can put up with more from them that I can from adults.”
If life with a toddler and a growing dental practice are not enough to keep her busy, Carter Mussetter currently spends weekends traveling with Gunther to Louisville where Evan is finishing up an emergency medicine residency at U of L. With the hope Evan can return to the Ashland area to establish his career, the couple is happy to be making the Tri-State home again. “We figured we got everything we needed right here when we were growing up and now Gunther can too.”
Wes Romanello Pharmacist
Sleep is a rare privilege for Wes Romanello. The 27-year-old Lucasville, Ohio, native is simply too busy fulfilling his lifelong dreams. Romanello graduated from the University of Charleston’s (West Virginia) pharmaceutical school in May of 2010. While in school, Romanello completed an internship at Southern Ohio Medical Center and he now works at the medical center. “I’m working the night shift right now, which gives me the time I need to work on some of the other things I want to do,” Romanello said.
Romanello’s current pursuit is studying for his pilot’s license. “I’ve always wanted to fly, it’s always been a passion,” Romanello said. “I have the time and money to do it now and I want to make it happen.” On track to finish by early summer 2012, Romanello hopes to one day own his own plane. “It’s just something I’ve wanted to do for fun,” Romanello added. “My sister Dana is a singer-songwriter in Nashville and I could fly down to see her.”
Romanello also enjoys sports and fitness. He attended Marshall University as an undergraduate where he was a safety on the Thundering Herd football team’s defense from 2003 to 2005. His current athletic obsession is participating in CrossFit at the Portsmouth Spartan Kettlebell Club. “I’m hoping to do the CrossFit Open, which is a big tournament,” Romanello said. “I’m currently ranked about 3,000 out of about 55,000.”
Being close to family is something Romanello values. His father, Joe, has long been a familiar name around the Portsmouth area as one of the founding members of the bluegrass group The Poverty String Band. Music also is important to Romanello and he is hoping to dedicate more time to the endeavor. “Everyone knows our family because they’ve always been a part of the community,” he said. Recently, the family gave Romanello a little encouragement. “They bought me a nice Martin guitar and I was really excited to get it,” Romanello said, “But with that guitar comes a lot of pressure to help start the next generation.”
Regardless of his future pursuits, Romanello knows that his family is always behind him.
“We have a close knit family,” Romanello said. “Between my sister’s friends and my friends along with our family, we have a strong support system. With that kind of support it’s easy to appreciate what you have and where you’re from.”
Matt Lewis, D.O. Family Physician
Ask a group of children what they want to be when they grow up and many will respond that they would like to be a doctor. It happened that way for Matt Lewis, D.O. While his fellow students were busy with sports after school, Lewis was working in Dr. Ray Kleykamp’s office or at least helping his mother Pam who worked for the doctor. He also was learning. “I knew I wanted to be a doctor since elementary school, and my parents were always very supportive,” Lewis said.
The 31-year-old graduate of Ashland’s Paul G. Blazer High School (Class of 1999) now is a family physician with Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital at the hospital’s Bellefonte Primary Care South Ashland location off of 29th Street. “I was lucky enough to be able to come home and do my training,” Lewis said. “Bellefonte is right here in my backyard.”
One of the first things you notice about Lewis is a friendly smile. Perhaps that’s because Lewis has a lot to smile about. Lewis met his wife Ashley while in medical school at Pikeville College. Lewis knew he would be returning home to practice medicine. “I was never really tempted to go away, this is where I want to be,” Lewis said.
Now Lewis is raising his family here and it is growing like his practice. He and his wife are parents to Kennedy, age 4, and expecting their second daughter in May. Lewis also is giving back to the community that he loves. He and fellow physician Kevin Howard, D.O., volunteer their time on Tuesdays at a free clinic at Scope Towers in Ashland for those without insurance. “I love being involved in the community,” Lewis said. “The church is my real job and this is just the way I fund that.”
Lewis has a big heart to go along with the big smile. The son of Robert “Cliff” Lewis, a boilermaker born and raised in Ashland, Lewis lost his father to a prolonged illness in 2008. He credits his success to his parents, who always encouraged him, as well as to his faith which sustains him. “I’m just doing what I think God wants me to do,” he said.