Photo attribution: Brianna RobinsonAishia Patterson has always cared for others. As a mother of four children and a caregiver for nearly 25 years, Aishia spent most of her life prioritizing the needs of other people. Eventually, she wanted more.

“I wasn’t sure what my career path would be. I considered opening my own business or leaving caregiving for another field, but I always came back to wanting to take care of others. I love helping older adults and helping a family take care of their loved ones; I enjoy listening to their stories and about their life.”

Aishia had connected with Opportunity Junction in 2007, years before the launch of the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training program.

“I kept getting emails about the new CNA training. Roadblocks kept popping up preventing me from applying. But when my youngest daughter turned 3, I knew it was time to step it up. I took a chance and applied.”

Aishia was accepted and began training as part of the Healthcare Career Pathway: a CNA training partnership that includes Opportunity Junction and our partners of Mt. Diablo Adult Education, a high achieving adult education center, and Empowered Aging, a regional nonprofit dedicated to ensuring dignity and quality of life for older adults. Aishia had learned that this program offered no-cost CNA training along with wraparound support services including career services, one-on-one support, food and transportation assistance, and ongoing alumni support as graduates continue their careers.

“The CNA training program is amazing. I loved having a professional skills instructor who was also a CNA. She could relate to what I was going through as a student and as a mother. OJ staff made us think and gave us tools to deal with life and manage our time.”

Aishia soared through the training and the state certification process and landed a CNA position with Alhambra Convalescent Hospital earning nearly double her caregiver pay rate.

“I am enjoying my new position and know this is a better start for me and my family. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the additional support from OJ—the food, scrubs, computer—everything made it so easy. I’ve already connected with the alumni manager to make plans to continue my education. I am so grateful for Opportunity Junction. This is the start of a better life for me and my family.”