A huge congratulations to CIH alum, Markeisha Brooks, who graduated from the Associates Degree of Nursing Program at San Jacinto College in October 2022 and quickly got to working in the Texas Medical Center.
We are so appreciative to her for sharing her experience and helping us get the word out about the work that we do. I recently caught up with her to chat about nursing and her commitment to her goals. Below is the condensed and edited version of our talk.
Can you tell me what things were like for you at the start of your nursing career journey?
I was working for one of the largest blood donation centers in Houston but was unhappy. Working there was also quite stressful. I was used to working at a smaller blood bank in Louisiana that really focused on helping people. For this reason, I was not feeling fulfilled and had to take a step back.
That’s when I realized that I needed to get back into school. My criteria for this new career was that it had to be extremely essential. At first I was also considering flight attending and accounting but once I sat down and I wrote down my goals for my future, nursing was the clear choice.
What program did you go to and what was it like when you got started?
I graduated from San Jacinto College’s 18 month long Associate Degree in Nursing that prepares you to become a registered nurse. The program is in Pasadena, and I was super excited to be in that program because of the short duration. When I found out how affordable the ADN program was and how quick the program would be, I went for it.
It was intimidating at first because you hear so many comments from people that will tell you, “It’s so hard,” “it is so expensive,” “you are going to have to put your life on hold”, and those comments were just extremely discouraging. Even I know people that started a nursing program and couldn’t finish it, so it was a tough decision, but I am so glad I went for it.
Before I even got accepted, I was hit with so many obstacles. Right before San Jac accepted me, I was really ready to give up. I had my heart set on the ADN program at San Jac and was disappointed that after months of applying to different programs, I had only been accepted into an LVN program.
At the very last minute I was contacted by the San Jac ADN program to let me know that the program was starting soon and that they were offering me a spot. I was extremely ecstatic!
What attracted you to the medical field?
I knew I wanted to specialize in healthcare. That is why my first position in that field was for a blood center inside of a hospital. At that job, I was surrounded by nurses. Seeing them I’d get a twinkle in my eye because I felt like the work that they were doing was so essential.
Once I realized I was unhappy, I thought about what made me excited and remembered the nurses I worked with back in Louisiana. I would see them at the nurse's station and that made me feel joy for this career and that made me want to go for it.
Another huge draw was the job security and the salaries that are offered. I love the fact that there is so much room for growth within this profession. Within the healthcare industry, you can always specialize in something, or you can move units to continue growing your experiences and increase your value. There’s so much you can do with a nursing license and that was a huge deciding factor for me.
When did you learn about Capital IDEA Houston?
I learned about CIH through a friend who was at HCC. At first, there was doubt as to whether I would qualify because I was at a different school than her. Despite the doubts I registered for an info session and got started with the process. Soon after, someone from the CIH office called me to confirm that my program did qualify and laid out the next steps for how to secure the sponsorship. Getting the sponsorship was truly a blessing. Everything just fell into place perfectly.
I was so skeptical at first because it sounded too good to be true and I was worried that I would be asked to pay back the money once I was done with the program. Even after I started seeing my career navigator, I would repeatedly ask her if there was some hidden clause that I didn’t know about, or some catch at the end, and she had to assure me that it was all completely legit. It has been such a blessing. CIH has been a godsend; it is just an amazing organization that is out here to help students reach their goals.
Can you tell me about the support you received from CIH?
Oh gosh, there was so much. Of course, I received financial support so that included: tuition, books, uniforms, scrub jackets, I even got a new scrub jacket for graduation, and even financial support for my state board exam and the state board prep course. None of that is cheap!
I also received so much emotional support. I remember one time I reached out to my career navigator when I was going through some financial issues. My employer was not paying me on time, and I contacted my career navigator, and she provided resources on what I should do and how to get my wages from my employer. Anytime that I needed help with something, I could reach out to my career navigator to help me get through whatever challenges came up. Whether it was financial, moral, or emotional support, she was always there.
Another big support was our weekly VIP meetings. Just being on the zoom call with other participants in nursing school and hearing everything that they were going through was so motivating. To know that I was not the only one stressed out about an exam or mental drained from studying all week made a big difference. We all had the same end goal to graduate from this nursing program so having that camaraderie was really encouraging.
Through these meeting you get a sense that you are not the only one and it is a reminder to not be so hard on yourself because you can feel comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Nursing is not an easy path. Most things in life are not easy so I needed to remember that I was not the only one that was going through it and that motivated me even more.
What advice would you give to someone starting on their nursing journey?
I love talking to people about going back to school and giving advice because I feel so many people need to be encouraged to know that they can do it. People see me now, a registered nurse, and are wowed by that but they have no idea what I had to go through to make it. You may think that just because I accomplished this goal, that it was easy but it was nowhere near easy so my advice would be to keep with it and push through.
There are so many things that will try to tear you down and deter you from reaching your goals and if you do not have that mindset, that awareness of those challenges, you may be blindsided by them. You need to prepare yourself and know that obstacles are unavoidable. Challenges will come up because the thing you are trying to accomplish is so great. We have to continue to fight and push through because there will always be something that will try to stop you from reaching that greatness.
Also, be careful of the company that you keep and don’t believe everything you hear. There were times when I was given incorrect information from other students so when reviewing your study materials, stick to trusted sources like a textbook or ask your professors. Don’t just go off what others tell you about what they think they know.
Lastly, what inspires you to stay motivated?
Definitely my mom is a huge inspiration but also just knowing the kind of job and life that I want has kept me motivated. Fighting for this vision, I learned that I need to go for those aspirations as much as I can without allowing myself to get in my own way. That is one of the most challenging parts to all of this.
I don’t think there is anyone out there who could come to stand in my way. I’m quick to cut relationships off if I know that it is not influencing me in the right way but standing in my own way like by doubting myself or second guessing myself is one of the hardest things to resist and something that we all need to work on avoiding.
Excellent advice, Markeisha. Thank you for your time.
If you are ready to jump start your livelihood, join us at one of our upcoming virtual info sessions to find out how we have helped more than a thousand students achieve self-sufficiency and get the training they needed with a sponsorship from Capital IDEA Houston: www.capitalideahouston.org/infosession