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Employee smiling and holding certificate of achievement.

Turning Tragedy into Triumph

It was the day after Christmas when Shirley got the news. Her mother, the 91-year-old matriarch of the family, had died. Little did Shirley know that tragedy would hit close to home again soon.

Shirley Nelson Yates has worked at University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center in the Accounting department as a Customer Service Specialist since 2004. Although thriving in her job, she often had thoughts of expanding her skill set and enhancing her career. Yet, before she could give serious thought to her future career plans, life delivered another stumbling block—her husband was diagnosed with a tumor in his right eye. Just 9 weeks later, the tumor exploded and she found herself a widow.

After experiencing two tragedies in a short time span, Shirley took a much-needed vacation. Just as she began to pick up the pieces of her life, she was notified that her house was in foreclosure. This situation put her in an uncomfortable position; Shirley is an independent woman and the thought of having to depend on others for help was difficult for her. Feeling hopeless, she moved in with a family member so that she could get her life situation back on track. She asked herself, “What’s next”? 

UM Capital Region Health Offers Hope

The Certified Nursing Assistant program turned out to be the hope she was seeking. 

With her personal goals to pay off debt, Shirley knew she needed additional income. A part-time job would be a challenge though because she still had her demands from work to consider. She heard about the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program that would allow her to learn hands-on under the supervision of professional nurses with clinical rotations working directly with patients. Since the program was being offered as day courses at her workplace, she could make up work hours missed while she participated. Suddenly, her hopelessness turned into promise.  

Ironically, it was the tragic experience of taking care of her mother and late husband that had the greatest impact on her decision to pursue the CNA program. “This experience gave me a push,” said Shirley. “I knew if I could help my mother and husband, I could help others as well.” Shirley was excited about the opportunity to gain new skills and possibly a new career at the end of it. 

Pushing Beyond Adversity

Shirley was grateful for the opportunity that so few people get and she was able to focus on studying instead of some of the hardships she had experienced. “Participating in the class brought me out of a slump,” she said. She enjoyed working through the required clinical training because it allowed her to work with people in a different capacity and she simply loved the interaction. 

At UM Capital Region Health, we want all of our staff to push beyond their limits and we have the resources you need to do it! Click here for more information about this program and many other professional resources for you, too.