Paige Davis had always promised her mother-in-law that she would follow her dreams. The Lafayette native, 24, had worked as a home health aide and really wanted to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA). Her grandpa, a qualified medical assistant (QMA) “back in the day,” had always been very supportive of the idea. In addition, the encouragement of her entire family fueled her motivation; when Paige had doubts about becoming a CNA, they kept telling her to “just do it.”
But the path to earning her CNA was not without obstacles: after Paige first enrolled in the program at Lafayette Adult Resource Academy (LARA) in May 2018, she had to stop due to bad back issues. Thankfully, she was not forgotten–in October 2018, LARA IET teacher and coordinator Anita Sanford made a follow-up call, and Paige was back to following her dream.
According to Anita, “At first Paige seemed really hesitant. Her first TABE scores scared her a bit. She had been out of high school several years and she was unsure of what she could do.” Consequently, Anita was uncertain whether Paige would stick with the rigorous program requirements. But Paige chose to apply for the IET in part because of “how Anita prepared you for the class instead of just dumping [you] into it.” In the first week of class, Anita noticed Paige’s perseverance: “Paige proved me wrong and just kept coming back. Her participation level increased each day.”
Paige also chose the program because of another challenge she faced: she was struggling financially, and the program was free. Ironically, entering the program would force her to make a difficult monetary decision: Paige chose to put in her two-weeks’ notice at her job “simply because,” as she states, “I needed to fully dedicate myself to [the coursework and training].” As a result, even more stressors came about: with only one income between her husband (then fiancé) Daniel Harmon and herself, they lived paycheck-to-paycheck with Paige’s best friend, all the while looking for a place of their own.
Transportation to the program was yet another barrier. With a suspended driver’s license, Paige first arranged to have her fiancé drop her off at the West Lafayette Purdue McDonald’s on his way to work; she would then walk the remaining two miles to arrive at LARA in time for her CNA class. Thankfully, she did not have to do that for long; she discovered that someone she knew was also in the program and could give her a ride. In the face of all the challenges that confronted her, Paige was figuring out how to achieve her goal as she problem solved along the way.
Perhaps the greatest trial of all was battling depression while dealing with every other obstacle in her path. As Paige comments, her emotional state “made finding energy and being focused hard.” But the class had a positive effect on her. Her teacher Anita observed:
I began to see an intense level of drive. As we spent time during our first week together, she
blossomed in amazing ways. In spite of the challenges she faced, she was always present and ready
for the next step in learning. She was eager to try suggested strategies and practice academic skills.
Additionally, Paige enjoyed being close to her classmates and receiving “all of the instructors’ honest support.” Describing her experience further, Paige shares the following:
They believed in us and built us up. In the customer service portion, we had creative thinking first thing and it made me look deep inside my personality. I also enjoyed how seamless each part [of the training] was, going from prep to customer service class to CNA.
The class also worked for Paige because it was hands-on and involved everyone’s input. Anita noticed Paige’s evolution:
Paige showed determination and courage to overcome and succeed. I followed her progress as she completed the Customer Service week and the CNA training and clinicals. The course instructors all commented how determined and willing Paige was to complete all the course work. She proved to be a very kind and compassionate people person who will have an amazing career.
Regarding her entire time at LARA, Paige states, “I had a very positive experience. They will help you, whatever [your] level of education. Matter of fact, already have a game plan with Anita for college classes.”
Currently employed as a CNA working weekends and picking up shifts during the week at Rosewalk Village of Lafayette, Paige has fulfilled her promise to her mother-in-law, and her family is very excited to have a CNA among them. Even so, Paige has an even bigger goal now—to become an emergency room nurse. Her advice to others will also serve as great encouragement for herself as she continues along her path: “If you feel like you are stuck, you aren’t. If there is a dream burning inside you, make the jump and start where you are. Be prepared to work hard for every bit of it though. It will be worth it.”