HPOG Success Story: Sandra at Central Community College

Publication Date: April 8, 2021

Grand Island, NE

Project HELP

Showing up to the wrong place at the right time turns into a new opportunity.

When Sandra lost her job, she was shocked, worried, and scared. But thanks to Project HELP Visit disclaimer page she found hope and a new sense of purpose. Sandra worked at the ShopKo in O’Neil, NE for over five years. She started as seasonal help and eventually worked her way up to Floor Supervisor. Unfortunately, the store closed, laying off nearly 20 people. In a small town like O’Neil, that meant a lot of people out of work and competing for what few jobs were available.

Even though jobs were limited, leaving town was not an option for Sandra. She and her husband live in nearby Chambers with their two daughters. Her husband is a fourth-generation rancher, working the family ranch. Despite living paycheck-to-paycheck, they were not leaving the land her husband’s family owned and worked for over 100 years.

Sandra was qualified to work. She has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from what is now Montana State University Billings. She worked a number of jobs from accounting to management over the years but there were no opportunities for her in the area. She consulted the help wanted ads and employment circulars and discovered her most promising prospects were in the healthcare field. She knew that a career in healthcare was the right move if she wanted to stay in town and find work.

Sandra made an appointment with the unemployment office at Northeast Community College. By a twist of fate she showed up to the wrong campus, which turned out to be quite the happy accident. While at Central Community College, she told the site director and administrative assistant about her plans to enter the healthcare field. They recommended Project HELP and that afternoon Sandra got in touch with her future success coach.

Eager to begin her journey, Sandra enrolled in a medication aide course. She followed that up with the certified nursing assistant (CNA) course at Northeast Community College’s O’Neil campus. The last time Sandra was in a classroom was 30 years ago so she needed some help brushing up on her academic skills. Project HELP stepped in to provide her with individualized success coaching to help her better navigate her return to the academic world. They also provided much-needed financial support in the form of transportation assistance, help with training-related costs, and course scholarships.

At 53, returning to school was not easy for Sandra but she was able to turn her age and experience into an advantage. Her advice to anyone interested in pursuing a career in healthcare is to just go for it, no matter how late in life. “Sometimes taking a different avenue you’d never thought you’d take opens a door you should have opened a long time ago,” she says. “Never second-guess what you might be able to do.”

Sandra passed both her medication aide and CNA exams. She now has a full-time job with the Good Samaritan Society in Atkinson and is looking forward to a long, happy career in the healthcare field.

“I liked having someone to ask if there was anything I needed. The encouragement was wonderful. It was nice to know that there was someone willing and able to listen to any problems that might come up.”

This success story was self-identified by the grantee and information contained in this document was provided by the grantee.

HPOG Success Story: Sandra at Central Community College (PDF)

Last Reviewed Date: