This week, I'm celebrating all the new graduates, including myself.
Spring is the season for graduations, and I am lucky enough to say that this spring, I, too, am a new grad. No, not from a four-year college, and my education is far from being over. I have many more years to go before I fulfill my current dream of getting a BSN (Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing) and becoming a nurse.
That being said, my graduation date on June 1 is a big deal to me. It has been almost three and a half years since I decided that nursing was my heart's calling. I attempted to begin my CNA previously, and did not ever start due to experiencing a high-risk pregnancy. I later went on to miscarry that child, but I did not return to school. My sister received her life-saving bone marrow transplant and I continued to be her caregiver. Time passed, life continued to happen, and it wasn't until this winter that I made the choice to begin again.
I have been told by several people that since I have so much time left in school, it makes no sense why this graduation would matter so much. I know that it is a license and that people get it all the time. My classmates and I make up eight of an estimated 1,500 people in Colorado alone who will become CNAs in 2018.
Like myself, many of my classmates are using their license as a springboard to the future. Jaime and Jeremiah will be joining me in nursing school later this year. Kira is looking to continue her work caring for patients she has become immensely close to. Tequilla is seeking to enter into the field of radiology. Miranda has a job lined up to work in hospice care. Fabbie is hoping to work now and attend nursing school later. Carl is hopeful that he can spark change through compassionate care with the elderly in his current job and potentially work in trauma or surgery later.
Through my sister, I have come to know several CNAs who have worked as aides for years. They are marvelous at what they do, and the time that they got to spend with the patient and their families was incredible. I became close with two of them, Susan and Amanda, and I am immensely grateful for the care they gave to my sister and the time that they gave to me. Without their guidance, I am not certain that I would have chosen to take this path through nursing.
As a caregiver, I felt as though I was essentially a CNA for my sister for nearly three years. During that time, and my time as a volunteer for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), I fought for her and many other cancer patients. I advocated for their wants and needs, and as a CNA I will, of course, continue to do the same. But in going back to school and getting my CNA licensing, I was fighting for myself.
I worked daily from 3:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and attended class from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., four days a week to complete my studies. I slept three hours a night after my commutes and homework time. I scheduled extra study time for tests, lab time, got re-certified for my BLS (basic life support) and managed friends, family and daily life challenges to complete my licensing.
For me, this license it is so much more than a vocational class or piece of paper from a college. It is the promise to work in a field that I love now and begin to affect the change that I hope to make in this world. It is the start of what I hope will be a long career where my daily work matters and I can make the same difference to other cancer patients as my sister's care team made to us. Becoming a CNA is a stepping stone towards my future.
I know that all of my fellow classmates and all CNA grads alike have traveled their own journeys to get here. I hope that all of them follow their passions into the field of choice, just as I am doing with oncology. So, to the entire CNA class of 2018, I say congrats grads!