CNA gains career, diploma through dual credit effort
Sarai Mendoza worked at a restaurant in high school but dreamed of a much different job and career.
Encouraged by her mom and a friend, Sarai signed up to gain the skills to become a certified nursing assistant through a Gateway Technical College program. Since then, she’s secured a position as a CNA at an area facility and hopes to continue her education to become a licensed practical nurse and eventually a registered nurse.
“I always had in mind to become a nurse,” says Sarai. “Caring for others is a big part of me, of who I am. I’ve wanted to become a nurse since I was a little girl.
“I work as a CNA now. I love my job. We take care of people with disabilities and I just love them, I love helping them. They are so appreciative of your help, and that’s an awesome feeling.”
Sarai’s mother works at a care facility, and Sarai did for a while as well. Sarai said it only increased her desire to enter the health care field and take care of others. She was encouraged to enter a nursing assistant training program offered through the facility, but chose Gateway because she had heard good things about the college and knew she would have more CNA career opportunities if she chose this path.
She earned a technical diploma enrolled at Whitewater High School through a dual credit program with Gateway. The program allows high school students to take Gateway courses at no cost and, upon completion, earn the diploma.
“My friend was taking CNA classes at Gateway and said it was great. I decided to do it, too, and finished in a month,” says Sarai. “Every weekend I drove to Kenosha and took online classes during the week, as well.
“This is perfect for me. I love my job, and when I go back to college, I already have my nursing assistant credits earned and don’t have to take them again. I have that CNA, too, something many others will have to wait for. And it was paid for – the only thing I paid for was the test.”
Sarai said earning the diploma changed her future. “It gave me a whole different view. I didn’t think this was possible, being able to work as a CNA so quickly and having a head start to becoming a nurse.
“Going to Gateway and earning the diploma gave me even more motivation to continue. I love my job and look forward to the opportunities which will come my way, and to continue my education and earn a nursing degree.”