SANFORD — Susie Buchanan knows what it is to lose a job and not know what the future holds. She also knows what it is to find hope and a new direction.
For 34 years, Buchanan had worked at a large manufacturing company in Sanford. Then, in 2009, she was laid off from her administrative assistant position. The hope and new direction came when she enrolled in a Continuing Education nursing assistant program at Central Carolina Community College.
On Dec. 15, Buchanan received her Nursing Assistant I and II certificates at the Continuing Education Department’s medical programs graduation at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center. About 250 students completed their Continuing Education medical programs training during the summer and fall semesters, with about 90 students and their families and friends attending the graduation.
“Losing my job was devastating,” the Lee County resident said. “From October to April, I didn’t know what I was going to do. Then the Lord led me to the nursing assistant program at the college. As soon as I walked in the class, I knew I belonged here.”
Buchanan is now excited about enrolling in Continuing Education’s new Patient Care Technician program and gaining more skills in her chosen profession.
The medical programs graduates ranged from those seeking a second career, like Buchanan, to those still in high school, like Stephine Adkins, a student at Lee Early College. Adkins looks forward to receiving her high school diploma and an associate degree in 2012. LEC is a collaboration of the college and Lee County Schools that enables students to earn both in four years. In addition, Adkins received her Pharmacy Technician Certificate at the medical programs graduation.
“It feels great,” she said. “It was a lot of work, but it feels great.”
Many of the graduates will continue their medical education, while others are either already in or going into the workforce in a variety of careers, including nursing assistants, several levels of EKG technicians, optometric assistants, pharmacy technicians, and phlebotomy technicians. Others will work in medical support jobs such as in a medical office, health care business, or doing medical insurance billing. Some graduates earned more than one certificate.
“This is the beginning of the rest of your life in your chosen medical profession,” College President Bud Marchant, told the graduating students. “You’ve chosen a marvelous profession — you’re in the business of helping people.”
Those words resonated with Delaine Johnson, of Chatham County, who received his Nursing Assistant I certificate. He is one of the growing number of men going into nursing.
“People say I have a good personality for working with people and nursing is a great career,” he said as he proudly held up his certificate. “It feels great to get this. My plans are to continue my education and go into the college’s Associate Degree Nursing program.”
Cindy Ramsey, CCCC Lee County director of Continuing Education, said the medical graduation is an opportunity to publicly congratulate the students who have worked so hard to complete their programs of study.
“I have a great deal of respect for the students who choose the medical field,” she said. “It is not easy, but they will be such an asset to our community in their choice of careers.”