By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON HARBOR – It’s been a long time coming for Angel Mathison.
The 25-year-old Watervliet resident was one of 12 women who officially became certified nursing aides Thursday through a program operated by Michigan’s Department of Human Services and the Michigan Career and Technical Institute.
For Mathison, she heard about similar CNA programs three years ago, and has spent the last three months in training.
“At the time I was already enrolled in another class,” she said. “A family member of mine took this course and told me what to do. I was lost for words when they told me I made it into the program.”
Diane Kellogg, who is a registered nurse with the state and served as the CNA instructor for the graduated dozen, said the program has come a long way since it began last summer.
“We have 18 different trades that we teach,” Kellogg said. “These kids are smart, but some were never given that chance. We really try to get them to where they need to be. When they first come into the program we try to see where they are in math and reading. A lot of these kids had to drop out of school because of babies and other things.”
Kellogg said there is a large need for CNAs in Benton Harbor because of the aging population. She said a lot of people train as CNAs as a stepping stone to becoming nurses.
After completing the 13-week class and clinical trials, the 12 women took and passed the state exam for certification on the first try – something that hasn’t been done before in the program’s brief history.
Benton Harbor resident and program graduate Lapresha Alexander said the biggest surprise for her was they had all passed at the same time.
SDLqThere was a lot of studying and hands-on training where we went and did it in-person,” Alexander said. “We all had to work together as a team.”
The program that operates in Benton Harbor can only take on 12 people at a time. Out of the pool of 80 applicants that wanted to be in the program, Mathison was the 12th chosen.
Mathison said she will begin work as a CNA part time so she can continue her education. Her overall goal is to have her own rehabilitation center.
“This was an awesome experience,” she said. “I’m just happy to have gotten this opportunity because it doesn’t come a lot.”
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on June 26, 2015)