Gerly Hebert has never shied away from hard work. Working at a pineapple plantation in home country of the Philippines, Hebert regularly put in 12-15 hour days. She earned the respect of her managers for her dedication and fortitude, but her weekly salary of $20 simply wasn’t enough to support her family.
So 3 years ago, Hebert made the difficult decision to leave her family, friends and home to come to America to make a better life for her son. She married a truck driver and was able to be a stay-at-home-mom to her son in Rush City. When her husband became ill and unable to work, Hebert didn’t hesitate to find a way to support her family financially.
“I did some research online for different jobs,” Hebert said. Without a driver’s license, she needed to find work close to home that could provide for her family’s needs. Immediately, she was drawn to the nearby nursing home, but she lacked the education to secure a position there.
Fortunately, her research also led her to Pine Technical & Community College and a Pathways to Prosperity grant that was providing funding for qualified students who were interested in becoming a nursing assistant.
“The grant was a blessing for me,” Hebert said. The grant not only provided for the cost of tuition, it also provided her additional supports to ensure she would be successful throughout the course.
“When I started school, I was nervous because English is a second language for me,” she said. “I lost confidence in myself. I was shy and afraid people wouldn’t understand me.”
Hebert found quite the opposite at PTCC. She worked with Kris Hanson, education and employment advisor, to gain access to transportation and ESL resources. Her teachers and peers were also understanding and encouraging.
“Everyone was so helpful and accepting, especially Carleen,” Hebert said of her instructor, Carleen Kendell.
And while Kendell assisted Hebert in the classroom, Hanson supported her outside of the classroom. In addition to providing encouragement, Hanson was able to connect Hebert with resources in the community, including everything she needed to get a driver’s license.
“I think she has grown so much,” Hanson said. “I’m so proud of her. Her husband was concerned when she started at college, that she would get lost in the shuffle. But she stuck with it.”
With the support of her husband, son and her advisors and teachers at PTCC, Hebert has thrived. She completed the nursing assistant training and sat for the state certification exam.
“I knew it would be hard work, but it’s rewarding,” Hebert said. “I love the people, seeing the smile on their faces and knowing I helped them.”
Hebert is proud to work at such a rewarding and challenging career that helps her to provide for her family. With the confidence she’s gained, Hebert now has her sights set on continuing her education and becoming an LPN.
“I’m so thankful for the grant and PTCC,” she said. “This is the startup for my life. And I hope the college can give more opportunities to people who need help.”
The P2P grant, administered through the Employment and Training Center, helped 22 students complete nursing assistant training. The current grant awarded to PTCC and ETC will provide welding training to women who qualify. With the July section filled, Hanson is starting a waiting list for August and September offerings.
“It’s unfortunate we weren’t able to continue offering P2P grants, but we’re very excited about the opportunity to bring women into welding,” Hanson said. “PTCC still offers nursing assistant training through its Continuing Education and Customized Training department, and, in many cases, the employer will reimburse their employee’s training costs.”
For more information about nursing assistant, contact Molly McCann@pine.edu. To learn more about the welding program and to get on a waitlist for a future class, call Kris Hanson, at 320.629.4568 or email firstname.lastname@example.org