Tjodi had been out of school for 10 years when she decided that it was time for her to go back to school and her enthusiasm led her to jump headfirst into the deep end. “I had a goal in mind and just went for it. Going back to school was crazy. I did not even think about it, I just enrolled in a summer session with two classes. I had completely forgotten that summer sessions are very compact,” she exclaimed.
She started her prerequisites back in 2016 but her admission into a nursing program was delayed for two years because her vaccinations were not ready, and classes had been too full. It was a frustrating summer as she had been denied admission into the nursing program and was upset about not being able to do anything about it.
A few months later, her husband would tragically pass away. It was a catastrophic time of pain and struggle for her, her children, and her family. Never one to lose hope, she clung on to the dream of becoming a nurse.
Thinking about that time, she notes, “It was a rough start. There was so much blocking me then. It feels surreal to be at this point looking back.”
We are so proud of Tjodi for all her perseverance and dedication and can't wait to keep up with her throughout the years as we know she has an incredibly bright future ahead. I caught up with her recently to chat about her experience and to congratulate her on her recent graduation from the licensed Vocational Nurse program at Coleman College. Below is the condensed and edited version of our interview.
How did you hear about CIH?
I found out about Capital IDEA Houston right at the beginning of my journey. I was taking my prerequisites, getting ready to apply to the nursing program when I was given a flyer to attend an info session. When I found out about the program, I was worried about qualifying. I did not know if I would fit the financial criteria, but the eligibility specialist really knew how to make the process as easy as possible.
I had been a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) since 2010 and quickly became a medication aid. I had been working with brain injuries at a rehabilitation facility for 12 years. We were trained to do a lot of nursing field type work and I always worked well with my nurses and people just always encouraged me to become a nurse because of my bedside manner and compassion.
I knew that I wanted to be able to help in a larger capacity, so I was like, “I need to go back to school!” In a way, it was a natural progression for me. I really fell in love with nursing over the years from being a CNA and working closely with other nurses.
What support did you have along the way so?
I have a great village. I am so grateful to have my parents, my sister, my brother, and my aunt. My children have been my motivation.
My family was very instrumental in helping achieve my goals and I'm thankful because I realize that a lot of people do not have that support. I have great parents. My mother is an RN. My father is an epidemiologist. He just got his doctorate degree. I come from a good stock of people who will push me through the difficulties. And they did. They were definitely the wind at my back.
I love learning and I love nursing. And so, school was the easiest part of this whole journey. It was the other stuff: my husband's passing. Then having to help my children mourn and having to do the COVID mandatory homeschooling. That was the most difficult part.
What support did you receive from Capital IDEA Houston that was the most critical to your success?
Of course, having all my educational expenses covered was a big advantage because when you are in nursing school, it's just not recommended that you work. Having the financial part covered was instrumental in me being able to concentrate on my studies and get through the program.
But more than that, it was the career navigators and everyone at the Capital IDEA Houston office. Everyone there is so supportive and understanding.
I loved the VIP meetings. I can see how for some it could be viewed as extra work because there is a lot to do, but for me it was therapy. It was my time to slow down. I’m always ripping and running so the VIP meetings was my time to, you know, whoosah, let loose and learn helpful meditation techniques, relaxation techniques, studying techniques. All of that stuff is so important to stay on it and motivated.
It was also the time shared with others. To know that you're not the only one failing; You're not the only one not getting it; You're not the only one with kids, work, school, death. It was helpful to know I was not the only one dealing with these types of challenges. It's been such a great community.
Everything from the check-ins by the career navigator to the school supplies that got delivered to my home. To have someone there who understands and keeps motivating you and pushes you forward was an incredible support. I just have to say, CAPITAL IDEA HOUSTON IS THE BUSINESS! love Capital IDEA Houston. I'm very, very thankful and blessed to have participated in the program.
How has it been since you finished your program?
I finished classes in December 2021 and a week and a half later I was already working for a private duty patient getting paid LVN wages. Going from being in school to working has just been a beautiful experience. It’s been such a blessing to start working as a nurse straight out of the program.
And now the company I used to work at for over 12 years called me last weekend to offer me a graduate nursing position! It feels amazing to be in demand and have so many things going for me.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about going back to school?
For anyone considering going back to school I would say trust your impulse! There's something in you that wants to do it, so go ahead and do what you need to do to rearrange your life so that you can be able to achieve your goals. There is support out there. For working people like myself, Capital IDEA Houston has been a blessing. With the support of this program, you can do it!
There's a reason we feel the need to go back to school. So, listen to that feeling and push yourself forward. Trust that feeling and go for it!
If you are ready to jump start your livelihood, join us at one of our upcoming virtual info sessions to find out how we’ve helped nearly a thousand students achieve self-sufficiency and get the training they needed with a sponsorship from Capital IDEA Houston: www.capitalideahouston.org/infosession