Credit: Rick Rowell/ABC Television Group ©2011 Disney Photo: Ashley Meets Jeff in the Bachelorette Season 7 Premiere

Were you looking for something in particular or did what you wanted change along the way?

I think what I realized, I went into it thinking I wanted just a good man and somebody that’s loyal and a family man. I think as time went on there were more things that I saw in the guys that I wanted. Most importantly, I realized I wanted somebody that made me feel good and made me feel like a woman, made me feel like I was able to be vulnerable. So, yeah, definitely as time went on I started to realize more about what I wanted.

During your time on The Bachelor, you said you regretted how closed-off you were and that you had a difficult time expressing yourself. Did you try to change that on The Bachelorette?

It was not easy, I’ll tell you that. But I went into it saying, ‘I don’t want to leave with any regrets. If I do fall in love, I’m going to go…’ I was going to put it all out there, at the risk of being hurt. I think I learned a lot from Brad’s season. I have no regrets, I don’t have any regrets.

Based on the commercials ABC has been airing, some of the men seem impressive. How would you compare them to Brad? Do you still have feelings for Brad?

I think Brad is a great guy, but I think we both needed things different things in life and, especially after meeting all these men, I realized how Brad wasn’t the best fit for me and I wasn’t the best fit for Brad. And I definitely think there are a lot of things in these men that I think are better suited for me and my personality and my lifestyle. So, yeah, I definitely realized Brad was probably not the right guy for me.

Can you give a couple of examples of how they might be better suited for you?

Yeah, definitely. One of the big things about Brad is that he was older and very settled in and I was looking for somebody to create a life with — a new life together. The way I saw it was that, I felt that Brad was looking for somebody to fit into his life. Not to say that was a bad thing, it just wasn’t what I was looking for.

How was it making the decision to be on The Bachelorette? Was it a tough decision to make?

OK, so I’ll tell you what I went through. When I was first approached about it, I thought no question on my mind, absolutely I would do it if everything worked out. Then I stated to question, ‘Am I strong enough for this? Am I at a good place in my life for this? I’m going to have to take more time off from school.’ I just weighed the pros and cons and then at the end of the day I realized that I wanted to do it. The pros outweighed the cons.

What were some of the traits you were looking for in the guys?

I’m looking for somebody that I feel like I can trust. Somebody that’s really loyal and a family man. And I said that going into it. […] I just want somebody that makes me feel. I live my life off of my gut and my intuition and I’ve learned to trust that and it’s led me to a lot of really great places. So, I’m just looking for somebody that makes me feel.

Did you take off from school, how did you fit it in? Going forward, are you going to finish school?

I did take time off from school [at the University of Pennsylvania]. I’m probably just a few months behind with my requirements. But I actually graduated, technically, two days ago! […] But, yeah, I’m going to be making up the time I lost this summer and then I’ll have my diploma and be ready to go.

Will you make money from this show that you can then use to pay off dental school?

You know, people are always wondering that! I think that is kind of a personal question, but I can tell you I will not be able to pay off dental school!

Do you have specific plans to start an internship or a residency or something?

At this point I really have no plans, so the United States is my oyster. I’m going to start taking steps to figure out what I want to do and where I want to be. But I’m still very open-minded about everything. We’ll see where life takes me.

Credit: Rick Rowell/ABC Television Group ©2011 Disney Photo: Ashley and Frank in the Bachelorette Season 7 Premiere

You, like many bachelors and bachelorettes, had a roller coaster ride on The Bachelor. This time, was there ever a moment when you just wanted to quit and go home and be done?

I’ll tell you that, there was definitely a roller coaster, but not all bad. Some of it had to do with just being away from home and away from friends. There wasn’t ever a moment where I wanted to give it all up, because I know how great of an experience it was. I thought that hopefully I would look back and be really happy that I went through it, but there were definitely hard moments where I thought, ‘Did I make the right decision to do this? Am I strong enough to do this?’ But overall I think I knew I wanted to push through.

The first time we saw you with Brad, you were a little jealous when the other girls spent time with him. Did you witness that among the guys on your season?

To be honest, I feel like a lot of the time the guys spend more time with each other than they do with me, obviously living together, so I didn’t see it that much. There were moments where I saw it, but not nearly as much as I thought I’d see it. Or not nearly as much as it happens with the women!

You have a couple of colorful characters on your season. In terms of drama, how do the men on your season compare with the women?

I will tell you this — I don’t want to give too much away — but I will tell you, they did a really good job of selecting all types of guys with different personalities, really interesting careers, interesting — interesting personalities. That’s all I say. Tune in and you will — you’re gonna die!

Were you happy with the guys they selected? What were your first impressions?

I went into it having kind of, not low expectations, but I didn’t know what to expect. But after the guys walked out of the limo, I was blown away. At that point I didn’t know them that well, but physically they were gorgeous to me. And after getting to know them — I mean, I have some great guys. I personally think the best that they’ve ever had.

If anyone knows how to read too much into anything, it’s us. So, after Ashley Hebert’s conference call five days before the premiere of The Bachelorette Season 7, we’ve decided she’s going to be an Ali, not a Brad.

What the hell are we babbling about now? During her pre-season teleconference, Bachelorette Ali Fedotowksy was coy and vague about how her journey ended, just saying, “I'm happy right now. And I'm really confident with my decisions that I made all along the way.” Meanwhile, Season 15 Bachelor Brad Womack was a giddy geyser, gushing that he was so in love: “I can promise you there is a very happy ending.”

Credit: Rick Rowell/ABC Television Group ©2011 Disney Photo: Ashley Meets Michael in the Bachelorette Season 7 Premiere

What happened to be your least favorite location?

I know you might think I’m not telling the truth, but I really, really loved every place I went to. I haven’t traveled that much, so every location was new and exciting to me. I can honestly say that I loved every location.

On the past two seasons of The Bachelor and Bachelorette, Ali and Brad said they fell for their chosen ones early on in their seasons. Did you have an frontrunner early on or did that change along the way?

How do I answer this? Without obviously saying too much I have to say there were points in time where I thought I had a frontrunner and, you know, things change quickly. I’ll tell you that. They go up and down and back and forth.

Do you think there are any guys from your season who would be good as the Bachelor next year?

Oh gosh, I think any guy on this season would be good as the Bachelor. I promise I’m not just saying that because they’re my guys, but they are great. I think you’re going to be really impressed when you watch.

Did you break some hearts along the way? Are there some emotional upsets coming our way?

Yeah, I feel like with every Bachelor and Bachelorette there are broken hearts and it’s no different. And I’ll tell you that it goes both ways and you’ll have to tune in to see what I mean by that.

It sounds like you came out of this pretty good. Emotionally it sounds like you grew a lot.

Oh definitely. I can’t even tell you and it’s hard to explain if you haven’t been through it, but you learn so much about yourself. Whether you’re with somebody or not in the end, you really take steps in getting there or realizing what you want in a relationship and how to be in a really committed relationship.

When you travel, do they take into account places you wanted to see or do they just surprise you with the trips?

I believe they just surprised me. If they take things into consideration, I didn’t know! I love being surprised, that’s something I realized about myself, too. Just take me anywhere and I’ll be happy.

Need your daily dose of The Bachelorette? “Like” us on Facebook! After all, you’d get our final rose.

Credit: Rick Rowell/ABC Television Group ©2011 Disney Photo: Ashley and Jon in the Bachelorette Season 7 Premiere

You said somewhere that you were worried that the men would be disappointed that you were the Bachelorette. Why was that?

I think, even from watching myself last season, I was thinking, ‘Who would want to date somebody that is looking insecure in a relationship and unsure?’ I really feel like I wasn’t my best self. So knowing who I am, I have confidence in me as the Bachelorette, but I didn’t think that somebody watching would know that, so I was worried that some people would find out it was me and want to leave.

So when you met the men, did that fear start to go away?

Oh, absolutely. The men were great and are great. They made me feel everything that a woman wants to feel — especially somebody that’s going into it with a little bit of insecurity about everything that happened on The Bachelor.

What’s the most important thing you learn about yourself during the season?

I learned that I do not like to break up with people, and I have a very, very hard time with it both emotionally and I have a physical reaction to it. That’s what I learned.

What was the biggest surprise about the season?

Without giving away too much … This is probably maybe a selfish thing to say or maybe what I was thinking, I surprised myself by overcoming some of the fears that I had and some of the insecurities that I had. So I guess that’s a little bit personal, but that’s probably my biggest surprise — without giving too much away.

Could you please tell us about some of your favorite dates or locations?

I would have to say one of my favorite group dates was, we were in Thailand and we actually renovated an orphanage and that was the most rewarding and probably the most exciting group date that I went on. I mean, it’s something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. And then, let’s see. I’ll say the overall season, without pinpointing a specific date, we had a lot of cultural dates, dates where we went through marketplaces and I feel like I learned a lot about different cultures. And to go through that with some of the guys, they’re traveling to these places for the first time as well. It was very educational! And romantic at the same time.

Do you have any kind of really interesting characters — like Madison, the Fang Girl — that you can set up for us?

I will tell you that we do have somebody that’s kind of similar to Madison, I guess. Without giving away too much about him, he wanted to — basically he did something that made me get to know him on a deeper level, not so much the physical. So you’ll have to wait and see for that, see how it turns out for him.

Going on this show, did you think, if you meet the man of your dreams are you ready to get married and settle down, or were you just checking out the scene?

Going into this, I think, you know, I’ve reached a point in my life where I knew that if were to meet the right person I would be ready, but only if I were to meet somebody that made me feel like I was ready. But going into this, I definitely had the mindset — you know, I have my career in place, I feel really good with where I’m at. On a personal level, I feel like I have a lot to offer and I have a great mindset about being in a committed relationship. Going into it, I felt like I was prepared on the outside, but only if I were to meet the right guy.

Are you going to pursue a career in dentistry or are you going to use this as a springboard for a career in entertainment?

I don’t think I would be a good entertainer, I’ll tell you that. No, I’m actually looking to go straight into dentistry. I will be getting my degree very shortly and I don’t have any plans for doing anything in entertainment.

During the After the Final Rose special, we saw your drastically different look for the first time. Was there a reason for the change?

I always get this question, it’s so funny! Actually, you know, the day I got back from filming The Bachelor, I colored my hair back to my natural [color] — and that’s what you saw. And it had been that way for a few months. So it was new to everyone else, but not so much to me and my friends. But, yeah, I guess in a way I went with the blonde to try something different and I felt like at the end of the day it’s always good to go back to who you are. When I left I wanted to start feeling like myself again and I think maybe, you’re right, I think symbolically that’s why I was back to the brown and I feel more like myself.

How long had you been blonde for?

Not very long. I was probably blonde for, it was a progressive thing. It started off with highlights and then got a little more — probably four or five months?

Credit: Rick Rowell/ABC Television Group ©2011 Disney Photo: Mickey Kisses Ashley in the Bachelorette Season 7 Premiere

Officially, both Ali and Brad are still engaged to their chosen ones, but it’s pretty clear Ali and Roberto Martinez are doing much better than Brad and Emily Maynard.

Ashley, 27, the dancing dentist from Madawaska, Maine, is already going the coy route. Though she sounded very bubbly, she was careful with her words during her May 18 conference call, checking in with the ABC publicists after a couple of questions to make sure she could spill certain details.

Brad giving away his own ending made sense, since he was the guy who dumped everyone in sight on The Bachelor Season 11. We were worried about him. Ashley being vague about whether she’s in love and engaged or even picked a guy in the end — that’s back to normal for the franchise, which is probably a good sign.

Still, it’s interesting, considering ABC gave away a lot of details in their season premiere press release, including the names of a lot of the guys who do crazy stuff — like our beloved Drunk Tim and Jeff the crazy-eyed Masked Man. Plus, show creator Mike Fleiss has been tweeting up a storm with his own dramatic season teasers. Is ABC fighting to be the first to break the news — at least before Spoiler King Reality Steve?

Anyway, even without giving away too much, Ashley did share some interesting details. She is planning to finish up her dentistry schoolwork this summer and will not enter the entertainment field after her turn in the hot seat. She went in looking for a loyal family man but left just wanting someone who makes her feel good. (Ali also said she ultimately went with her feelings rather than specific character traits.) There were times when she thought she had a frontrunner, but admitted that “things change quickly.”

Overall, she said, “I’m happy with the way things turned out for me.”

Read on for more from Ashley, who also addressed her constantly changing hair color:

Credit: Rick Rowell/ABC Television Group ©2011 Disney Photo: Ashley Hebert in the Bachelorette Season 7 Premiere

What was it like being on the other side of things this time? Was it more difficult than you expected to be the one to make the choices?

Ashley Hebert: Oh gosh. I mean, yeah, going into it I knew that I’d have a whole other set of, kind of, hard times. But I didn’t expect it to be as difficult as it was, but I definitely learned a lot about myself. So I guess I prefer to be on this side, but it was not easy at times, that’s for sure.

Did you get any advice from former Bachelors or Bachelorettes?

No, not really. No I didn’t, actually. I think I got advice from my past self.

What advice did you give yourself?

To make sure that I left without any regrets. I know that’s cliché, but it’s really what I went into it thinking.

You may not be allowed to tell us this, but are you happy? Did you find love? Are you engaged?

All those questions are things you have to stay tuned [in] to find out, but I’m saying I’m happy with the way things turned out for me. But, yeah, you’ll have to tune in and see everything, you know, the roller coaster.

If you didn’t end up picking someone, would you be willing to do it again, like Brad, or is once enough?

Oh gosh! In all honesty, I’d have to say once was probably enough! I really, really have a whole new respect for Brad for going through it twice.

How were your feelings going into this first mixer different from your feelings going into the last first mixer?

I [was] so much more nervous for this one!

Because you were excited or scared or...?

Well, I mean, when I was on The Bachelor, I feel like you kind of have nothing to lose. You’re going into it open-minded and you’re excited about the experience. But walking into this one, it’s more serious and there’s a lot more things that I have to figure out. There’s a lot more pressure. So I was definitely a lot more nervous for this one.