Galveston native Jacqueline Mendez steered clear of big city universities after high school, choosing a concentrated community college jump-start to a job and career.
Enrolling in the certified nursing assistant program at Galveston College, she completed the coursework, passed the state certification exam and started work at the Meridian nursing home in Galveston. Now she’s back at school, studying to become a licensed vocational nurse.
“I would like to tell all young people to continue coming to school; that’s the best decision they could make,” said Mendez, 22, who hopes to eventually become a nurse practitioner working with premature infants. “No matter how many sacrifices they have to go through, they can stick to what they have in their minds. It’s a good effort to go back to school.”
Galveston College has smoothed the path to several careers with programs like the certified nursing assistant — or CNA — preparation. From phlebotomy technology to diesel engine testing and repair, the Continuing and Professional Education programs offer a quick course load, on-the-job experience and prospects of a healthy paycheck.
College of the Mainland in Texas City has similar programs, including one helping high school students graduate with CNA licenses.
“This is their steppingstone to whatever they want to do,” Debbie Duncan, a registered nurse and a Hitchcock High School career and technology teacher, said in a COM news release on the program.
“It’s a big privilege and everyone looks up to them. This is very good for their self-esteem,” said Duncan, whose La Marque High School counterpart, registered nurse Joyce Singleton, also attends classes and clinicals with students.
Hitchcock and La Marque High School students completing the program and
passing testing will be certified nurse assistants and certified in health care provider cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Many of the students begin working as soon as they are certified. That’s the goal of the COM and Galveston College certificate programs.
“These are designed to help people get out there faster,” said Connie Thomas, customer account executive for continuing education at Galveston College.
Programs like the CNA training are a needed service, she said.
“It leads to employment; it’s a door-opener. In terms of enabling a person, young or old, who decides they want to enter a profession, it’s a wonderful starting point that can lead to higher levels of medical employment.”
The phlebotomy technology program, recently redesigned, also aims to get graduates out in the job market quickly.
“It is a course that leads to job opportunities, particularly here on the island where you have the University of Texas Medical Branch,” Thomas said.
Most of these programs can be completed within a year’s time, in contrast to four-year university degrees. Galveston College and College of the Mainland, like other community colleges, can also offer smaller classes and a more personal approach than large universities.
“I like coming to this school,” Mendez said. “I get hands-on instruction; I can talk to the professor face to face, instead of what would happen in a big, big university.
“The professors here are so willing to help.”
At A Glance
Galveston College programs with high employment prospects include:
• EKG Technician Certification Program: A 50-hour program preparing students to function as EKG technicians.
• Medication Aide: A course offering instruction in the preparation and administration of designated medications by nonlicensed nursing personnel employed in licensed health care agencies.
• Diesel testing and repair: A 200-hour certificate program instructing in basic diesel engine trouble shooting and preventive maintenances.
For information, call 409-944-1344 or visit www.gc.edu.
College Of The Mainland
College of the Mainland certificate programs preparing students to enter the workforce quickly include:
• Professional bookkeeper, computer information systems, computer systems technology, network systems technology and welding
• Medical coding, vocational nursing, medical assistant and pharmacy technician
For information, call 409-938-1211 or visit www.com.edu.