Ashley Hebert is a young woman who may have found love and her soul mate.

But she can’t tell a soul about it.

The Madawaska native will star for the next two-plus months in the ABC romance-reality show “The Bachelorette.” It marks the first time a Mainer has been the star of a competition reality show and not a contestant.

She’s finished filming, so she knows which of the 25 eligible bachelors she liked and didn’t like. Who she kissed and who she didn’t.

But neither she nor ABC — especially ABC — wants her to spoil any surprises in store for viewers.

So when reporters from across the country asked her during a conference call last Wednesday if she was now engaged, she declined to answer. And an ABC public relations representative was on the line with her to make sure she didn’t answer.

“Let’s just say I’m happy with the way things turned out,” said Hebert, 27, a dental student at the University of Pennsylvania. “You’ll all have to tune in to find out.”

Hebert also wouldn’t say how much ABC is paying her for her starring role, saying that information is “kind of private.” But she did answer one question for her practical-minded fans back in Maine.

“I will not be able to pay off dental school,” she said.

So Hebert may come out of her reality TV experience with a more traditional dose of reality — a boyfriend and loads of debt.

At 9 p.m. Monday, Hebert will begin her time as “The Bachelorette” after an internship of sorts. Beginning in January, she was one of 30 women competing for one man’s heart in ABC’s companion show, “The Bachelor.”

On “The Bachelor,” Hebert was completely at ease in front of the camera, and made a big enough impression on star Brad Womack that she was one of the final three women left on the show. But not the final woman.

Once “The Bachelor” finished airing in early March, ABC offered her the chance to be “The Bachelorette.” Hebert said Wednesday that she decided to take the role because “I am strong enough and am in a good place in my life.”

Plus, she said, she was close to finishing her dental studies and would only have a “few months” of work to make up to complete her credits. She has already technically graduated.

Hebert made clear that whatever happened during filming, she definitely intends to be a dentist. Being the star of a reality show has not convinced her she should pursue a career in entertainment.

“I don’t think I would be a good entertainer,” said Hebert, who was Maine’s 2002 Junior Miss and captain of her dance team at the University of Maine. “I plan to go straight into dentistry.”

Traveling for “The Bachelorette” and “The Bachelor” has been a major perk for Hebert, since she hadn’t traveled much before. For “The Bachelorette,” she was filmed having dates with men in Thailand, Hong Kong, Taipei and the Fiji Islands.

She said that during a “group date” in Thailand, she and several bachelors helped renovate an orphanage. “It was something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

The “most surprising thing” she learned about herself during filming is that she doesn’t like breaking up with people, and that she has a physical reaction to it.

And the way “The Bachelorette” is set up, there’s the potential for the star to break up many, many times.

On the debut episode Monday, Hebert will be seen meeting her 25 bachelors at a mansion in Los Angeles. An ABC news release says she already knows about one of the men — from another woman who was on “The Bachelor” with her.

The news release goes on to say one bachelor will try to serenade her in the opening episode, and another will be seen having too much to drink. At the end of the first episode, Hebert will have narrowed the field from 25 to 18. (Read The Portland Press Herald every Tuesday for weekly coverage.)

The bachelors picked for the show range in age from 25 to 35, and their occupations include lawyer, butcher, wine maker, restaurant owner, construction company CEO, personal trainer, hair stylist and cell phone salesman.

From looking at the basic information ABC gave out on the bachelors (no last names were given), there seem to be a couple of possible front-runners: Matt, 28, an office supply salesman from Bridgewater, Mass., who is the only New Englander in the bunch; and Blake, 27, a dentist from Greenville, S.C.

Yes, a dentist. How perfect is that?

But Hebert says many of the guys impressed her.

“After the guys walked out of the limo (in the first episode), I was blown away. Physically, they were gorgeous,” said Hebert. “I had some great guys. Personally, I think it’s the best group they’ve had (on the show).”

But Hebert also said ABC did a good job of picking guys with “interesting personalities,” and that there were some “colorful characters” on the show.

When asked if the men on “The Bachelorette” were better suited to her than Womack, Hebert said Womack was “very settled and looking for someone to fit into his life.”

“I want someone to build a life with, together,” said Hebert. “I went in just looking for a good man, someone who is loyal and a family man. What I realized is that I wanted someone who makes me feel good I realized more about what I wanted.”

Hebert also said it was more difficult being “The Bachelorette,” and having to choose between 25 guys, than it was to be one of 30 women vying for one man.

“I went into ‘The Bachelor’ with nothing to lose, very open-minded,” said Hebert. “But walking into this one, it was a lot more serious. There’s a lot more pressure.”

Not to mention that millions of people will be watching every romantic move she makes. 

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com