Online HR program provides education boost for supervisor of 700+ employees
Education was the last thing on Patricia Waites’ mind when she came to the U.S. from Jamaica right out of high school. “I was just excited to go to work,” she says. “You want to work and have a family, so I was never able to enter college.”
Patricia made her way up the ranks in the medical field the hard way: Through putting in the time. She’s worked for more than 29 years at Ideal Nursing Services, an East coast home health agency that also teaches Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) students. Patricia worked her way through Home Health Aide, CNA and Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) to her current position as Staffing Coordinator where she supervises over 700 people.
Patricia is very good at her job but knew that she needed more education if she was going to keep up with technological and communication advances that were quickly becoming necessary efficiencies. She wanted to get ahead of the curve headed her way.
“I didn’t have time to sit in a classroom so I typed ‘HR class Online’ [into my Internet browser window] and found SJVC,” says Patricia. “I was very happy I did and spent two hours on the phone, trying to figure out my class. I knew I wanted to do it.” She enrolled in the college’s Human Resource Administration (HRA) certificate program.
Online studies worked out very well for Patricia. She could balance her work schedule – including two part-time teaching jobs – with busy family activities with her adult children, Jerome, Patrice and Shaunte.
The HRA program’s classes were a perfect match for the changes occurring at Patricia’s work. “I do the hiring, so the training had to do with some things I do,” she says. “With the computer, we were moving into the Cloud and I got that training at SJVC. I said, ‘OK, guys, I know this; I’ve got it.’ I was very excited to show off at work what I’d learned.”
Two more areas of study proved very important to how well Patricia stays on top of her responsibilities. “I have a better sense of when I’m hiring someone how to verify their credentials and do a more thorough background check and verification. I also do a very good orientation now.”
As important as this new flow of education was to Patricia’s current position, the discipline that was required to pull it all together didn’t come easily.
“OK, I need some help here,” she remembers saying out loud. “I was reaching out to everyone. If I was confused in any area, someone helped me figure it out, until I got it.” Teachers and family lined up to give her the support she needed.
“Emily Wear (teacher) was one of the best,” says Patricia. “She was always reaching out to me in any way to help. And Krystel Vitug (Student Advisor) calling me every week. I just wanted to show off for her because I promised her I would do good. I have not been disappointed in any way. It’s been the best match. It’s like I got married to San Joaquin,” she laughs.
“Patricia was very determined to be successful in her program,” Krystel says. “She kept in great communication with me and other instructors to ensure that she was completing her assignments correctly and would pass her courses. To this day, she is still keeping in contact with me because we’ve built a friendship.”
When Patricia started her Microsoft studies, her sister Judith stepped up. “Microsoft was challenging and I was with my sister until early mornings working through it,” says Patricia. “When I got an A, I called her and said ‘we’ got an A.”
She tapped her sister, Carolyn, for her Payroll studies and her mom, Carol, was her editor on all papers that had to be turned in. Patricia’s daughter, Shaunte and her boyfriend, Ricardo, helped her with all things math-related.
Patricia completed her program in June 2016, but something strange happened along the way. “I don’t know what you (SJVC) did to me that now I’m always wanting to go to school,” says Patricia. Now enrolled in a Registered Nursing program, Patricia doesn’t plan to stop there.
“I’m going to do whatever I need to go on and do the Master’s,” says Patricia. “I have the education bug, and I’m aiming as high as the sky can take me.”
Her mom, Carol, quietly set a standard that Patricia has chosen to emulate. “She started out as a teacher, just trying to make a life for us; but her teaching degree did not work here,” says Patricia. “She took care of patients like I did; then, after a few years started her own home care business. I have the ambition, drive…everything, and I just want to own my own one day.”
As her mom has always said to Patricia, “With God, all things are possible.”
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