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Thursday, July 28, 2022

‘I Love Helping Others’: Sandia Nicolas’ Path into Nursing through Catholic Charities’ CNA Program

Sitting at a classroom desk, her gaze pointed down, Sandia Nicolas hoped her teacher would not call her to the front of the room. It was the third week of her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) course at Catholic Charities, and the students were expected to be able to demonstrate the range of motion exercises they had learned using a medical manikin.

Despite her best efforts to be overlooked, Nicolas was called up to the front.

“I got up there, and I just froze,” said Nicolas, recalling the memory with a chuckle. “I said, ‘I don’t think I can do this, and my teacher said, ‘Yes, you can. You may be feeling shy, but you can do this.”

The following day, during the skills portion of class, Nicolas volunteered to try again, this time trying to channel a sense of confidence. She quickly succeeded, demonstrating a firm knowledge of the skills required.

Now, months later, she looks back at this experience fondly, claiming it was one of the most impactful lessons she took from the program. Not only did she master the range of motion exercises, a crucial skill for every nursing assistant, but more importantly she says she learned the profound power of believing in oneself in the face of challenges.

Nicolas says her husband is living testament to this power. Having received a complex spinal cord surgery ten years ago that inadvertently resulted in paralysis, Nicolas’ husband uses a wheelchair full-time to get around. Nicolas immediately committed to supporting him in every way she could. However, she knew that in order to become his full-time caretaker, she would need to pursue a nursing career. Nicolas wasted no time, quickly signing up for Catholic Charities CNA program at the Brockton site, as well as their ESOL classes.

“My teachers were just amazing,” said Nicolas. “It was such a nice environment to be in.”

Above all, Nicolas says her husband’s resilience and bright spirit motivate her to become the best version of herself, inside and outside the classroom.

“He taught me you have to be a leader and never a follower,” she said. “You have to never give up.”

Having just completed the CNA program this spring, Nicolas is now preparing to take the Massachusetts CNA exam at the end of the month. She says her dream of treating patients in a hospital setting, hopefully in the near future, motivates her to study every day.

“I love helping others, whether it’s treating sick patients, supporting homeless people, or caring for my husband,” she said. “It always makes me feel good.”

Nursing Assistant and Home Health Aides (NA/HHA)s are two of the fastest growing occupations and can often be a step to becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Registered Nurse (RN). They often work at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, visiting nurse services, or private care agencies. To learn more about Catholic Charities’ Nursing Assistant and Home Health Aide Program offered in Brockton and South Boston, please click here.

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