MADAWASKA — A Monday night guilty pleasure for viewers around the country, the upcoming season of the reality television series “The Bachelor” features a St. John Valley native among the 30 contestants.
Ashley Hebert, originally from Madawaska, will compete with 29 other single women from around the country for the heart of handsome bachelor Brad Womack.
Hebert, who describes herself as a romantic, said in a prepared statement she is “very hopeful for extreme romance to enter my life.”
The 26-year-old currently is a dental student at the University of Pennsylvania and is an alumna of the University of Maine where she majored in biology and minored in dance.
While at UMaine Hebert was captain of the campus’ dance team.
Her entry into reality television did not come as a complete surprise to Tammy Golla, owner-teacher at Mainstreet Dance Studio in Edmundston, New Brunswick, where Hebert attended classes while in high school.
“Ashley is the nicest person you have ever met,” Golla said during a phone interview Thursday. “She is also very, very talented and fell in love with dance and I immediately fell in love with her.”
Golla was able to talk on the record about Hebert, but family members contacted Thursday said they are bound by strict contractual rules prohibiting them from speaking to the press until the season is complete.
While admitting a bit of a surprise that Hebert decided to look for love on national television, Golla said it is not surprising she ended up there.
“I really can’t see her anywhere else but on the stage,” Golla said. “What really surprised me is she decided to study dentistry because she was all about dance and is really a showgirl in the best possible sense.”
Golla has no doubt the rest of viewing America will fall in love with her former student and suspects she knew exactly what she was getting into when signing on to the show.
“She’s not a stupid child or a naive child,” Golla said. “I’m sure she entered into it kind of tongue and cheek.”
Every week contestants on the show participate in various “challenges” and orchestrated “dates” hoping to impress the bachelor who, in turn, eliminates one woman at the end of each episode until — ideally — only his true love remains.
In past seasons contestants have traveled to exotic locations including Iceland, Tahiti, Portugal and Turkey.
While it remains to be seen if Hebert makes it to the finale, Golla suspects St. John Valley viewers will remain glued to their televisions.
“I watched the show the first year (but) really am not a fan,” Golla confessed. “Apparently it looks like I will watch it again — but this time there is a different dynamic.”
Season 11 of The Bachelor premieres at 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 3, on ABC.
CORRECTION: Ashley Hebert is a dental student.