Even though single mother of four Nanaushika McGee enjoyed her job at an elementary school, she was ultimately interested in pursuing a career in healthcare. But the timing was never right, and many training options were cost prohibitive. It didn’t seem attainable.
COVID-19, however, changed everything for her.
“The pandemic really drove it for me, because in my mind I’m thinking, ‘Okay, well, they’re going to need a lot of help,’” she recalled.
Spurred by the desire to join the front-line ranks during the global crisis, she searched for training options again. This time, she came across Opportunity Junction. She realized the nonprofit organization offered Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training through its Healthcare Career Pathway (HCP) program. Cohorts were trained in both Antioch and Concord – at Mount Diablo Adult Education (MDAE), which happened to be close to home.
“I called and asked questions, and they were very helpful,” Nanaushika explained, further noting that the financial assistance removed barriers. “It led me to a really big life-changing career move.”
After graduating from the HCP in 2021, she quickly secured employment. While she said work as a CNA can be hard, the bigger role of the job is connecting with people and caring for those who are most vulnerable. She noted that her priority when caring for someone is making sure they feel safe. She also expressed appreciation for the special moments she’s had with patients.
“I shared my dream of one day becoming a registered nurse with a resident, and they stopped and grabbed my hand, and they prayed for me,” Nanaushika shared. “That meant so much to me.”
Nanaushika is well on her way to achieving her dream. As 2022 came to a close, she graduated from the Licensed Vocational Nurse program at Contra Costa Medical Career College and passed the National Council Licensure Examination.
She said the initial CNA training opened doors to her future.
“To this day, I’m so grateful to Opportunity Junction. The people who worked there were very thoughtful, and you could really see that they wanted you to succeed,” she said, fondly recalling instructors and career coaches who cheered her on along the way. “It was genuine.”
She encouraged others who might be considering the program to take the next step and apply.
“I know life will come at you, regardless, but you know you’ll feel much better once you’re finished, and that you put in that time into changing your career path.”