I love my job as a certified nursing assistant. I learned from an early age to look past disabilities to see the person. As a child growing up, I was around a lot of elderly people in my family and my church. I was expected to assist them with mobility and daily activities. They inspired me.
As a teenager, my desire to help others only grew bigger. In high school, one of my teachers was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). She developed difficulty with ambulation, which led her to have to use a walker and then a wheelchair. Because my grades were good she selected me as one of her assistants. I helped her copy assignments, collect papers, and stay on top of her duties. Students like me did everything we could, even pushed her around in her wheelchair, delaying her eventual retirement as much as we could.
After high school, I started attending college and also volunteered at the VA hospital as a ‘candy striper.’ I started working as a nursing assistant in a nursing home in 1987. In 1990, a law was passed that required certification. I have been certified now for 26 years, and still I love my job. Not only do I provide care to residents, but also to family members.
My son was born prematurely in 2007, and because of a lack of oxygen, developed cerebral palsy. It affected his physical ability such that he needs a wheelchair. My husband and I provide all of his care. He is doing so well in fourth grade that his teacher sends him to the fifth grade class for part of the day. I am very proud of him. Looking past disability to see the whole person is an important lesson for all of us to learn.