They looked alike in their matching, white scrubs, but the first students of a local nursing program were all there for different reasons.
For Taquilla Ulmer, it means the beginning of a new life.
The 19-year-old mother of two boys dreams of having a professional job and growing out of the Red Lion group home where she lives.
She said the new certified nursing assistant program taught at Crispus Attucks Employment and Training Center can help her do that.
During day five of the new offering at the center's 605 S. Duke St. address, Ulmer was among six young women who steadied a focused gaze on a video presentation before them.
They learned the dos and don'ts of patient care during the class, and teacher Sharone Stewart pointed out the
importance of their professional path.
Stewart is a registered nurse and teacher for Harrisburg Area Community College, which administers the certified nursing assistant program at Crispus Attucks.
"These students are passionate and motivated," she said.
Other students: Najla Mitchell is one of those students.
Mitchell is a 20-year-old city resident who chose the program after spending three years in nursing school at HACC.
An adviser suggested a certified nursing assistant program would help her "get a foot in the door" before clinical rotations.
The program at Crispus Attucks is one she can walk to and will provide her certification in 17 days, she said.
With a little more than two weeks of training, she can land a job earning $9.80 to $12 per hour, according to Mike Barba, program manager for the health care initiative at Crispus Attucks.
It's an opportunity that will help Shontay Ream better her life, she said.
The 21-year-old described herself as an East York resident and single mother who can benefit from a short class schedule that leads to a job.
"It's a good opportunity for me. (Barba) has done more for me than you could ask for. He teaches you how to proceed with life, to better your life," she said.
Barba and his colleague Holly Gould, programs manager for youth employment services at the center, said hosting education programs at Crispus Attucks helps remove barriers.
Removing barriers: Until last week, Crispus Attucks previously sent its certified nursing assistant students to HACC, and they found transportation to be a huge barrier for a number of students.
So the nonprofit partnered with the college to help nontraditional learners train for a job closer to home.
In addition to the certified nursing assistant training that just started, Crispus Attucks will also host phlebotomy and pharmacy technician programs this fall. They are funded by the South Central Workforce Investment Board, an agency based in Harrisburg.
To be eligible for the programs, students must be 17 to 21 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, pass a drug screening, have a clean criminal record and meet the program's income guidelines, which vary.
Upon qualifying for the programs, students will earn an advanced education for free and walk out with a job.
Crispus Attucks has a good job placement pipeline with local personal care homes, including ManorCare Health Services, Pleasant Acres and Rest Haven, Barba said.
With the addition of the phlebotomy and pharmacy technician programs, he expects to also place students at York and Memorial hospitals, and within the WellSpan system.
"This is a turnkey education," he said. "It breaks down excuses and makes it possible for students, who graduate high school, to go right into the health care field."
Once they have that education, he said, they will forever be more employable.
"The health care field is not going away. It's not being sent overseas. We have an aging population here, and there's a growing demand for workers to care for it," he said.
-- Reach Candy Wood all at cwoodall@yorkdis patch.com.