Amy is inspiring students just like her
Amy’s time at Takoda began back in 2011. She enrolled in the former Nursing Assistant program and then got a job at Southview Acres in St. Paul, where she worked for 5 years. With an interest in the medical field, she enrolled in the Patient Services Specialist (PSS) program in 2015. She then enrolled in the Computer Support Specialist (CSS) program to pair her medical experience with IT skills. Now, Amy is an instructor at Takoda, hoping to give students the same experience she had.
Amy chose Takoda because the classes were short and offered at no-cost, but it was the support from students and staff that kept her coming back.
“I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish without the support of my cohort,” she says. “I was a mother, going to school full time, on public assistance – that made everything 10 times more difficult. At lunch, my cohort would ask why I wasn’t eating. I would tell them that my food stamps hadn’t come in yet. That all the food I had was for my children. They would share their food so I could focus in class.”
“I tried to do traditional college,” says Amy. “It didn’t feel supportive. When I was there with my other classmates they were there to go to class and get out. No one cared about their other classmates. Here, we were together all the time and just became family. The smaller class sizes helped a lot too because I was able to get one-on-one help from instructors.”
The staff at Takoda work diligently to help students succeed. With Amy, it was no different. “I was in a car accident the day before I was supposed to take my state board exams to get my Nursing Assistant certification. The Takoda Institute director helped me reschedule. When I finally took the exam, my instructor took the time to meet me at the Red Cross and wait for me to finish taking the test. She said, ‘you didn’t get to take it with the rest of your classmates. I’ll stay here with you and wait until we find out if you passed,’” Amy said.
“I had to sacrifice a lot to be here,” says Amy, “but it was worth it.”
After earning her Medical Office certificate, Amy got a paid internship at the Division of Indian Work, was hired as a Health Unit Care Coordinator, and was then hired at the Native American Community Clinic.
Amy stayed in contact with faculty and staff at Takoda, and during her third pregnancy, she encouraged her to enroll in Takoda’s Computer Support Specialist (CSS) program. Her instructors noticed how quickly Amy caught on to the learning material and saw her potential to combine her experience in the medical field with IT training.
During the CSS program, she was forced to go on bedrest and couldn’t attend class. “When I didn’t show up for a few days, my instructors called me on a conference call to check in on me. They said, ‘Amy, are you okay? Are you coming to class?’ When they found out I was on bedrest, they found me a laptop so I could work on coursework from home,” says Amy.
Amy’s unique set of skills in healthcare and IT make her an asset in either industry and she is currently sharing those skills as an instructor at Takoda. Amy teaches Customer Service, ServSafe Manager and Food Handler, Keyboarding, and Intro to Microsoft Office. She says her experience as a student informs how she works with students. “I act as an advisor too. I help students with questions and work with other instructors to share my experience as a former student,” she says.
“People ask me how I continue to get such good paying jobs,” says Amy. “I tell them, ‘I came to Takoda.’ I dedicated 6 months of my life to going to school and it paid off.”