Thanks to a grant from the Women’s Legacy Circle, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) distributed $9,000 in education awards for Black team members interested in pursuing nursing. Adrienne Littlepaige, certified medical assistant/registered medical assistant (CMA/RMA) at Carle Danville on Fairchild, and Tyeonia Jake, Emergency Department (ED) healthcare tech (HCT), were two of the team members selected as recipients.
“Adrienne and Tyeonia have demonstrated their commitment to education and professional development,” Demario Turner, DEI specialist, said. “And through their personal stories, connections and experiences of what attracted them to a nursing career, they have a clear vision of the goals they hope to achieve and the impact their diversity will have in this profession and to patient care.”
When Adrienne Littlepaige saw the story about the Building Racial Diversity in Nursing Staff education award on CLICK, she knew she had to apply. For many years, Littlepaige had dreamed of becoming a nurse. But after encountering numerous obstacles, she’d nearly given up on the idea.
“I was a teen mom. I got married and after my son got a little older, I got my CNA,” Littlepaige said. “Later I started taking classes for nursing, but life happened. I had two boys a year apart. I would take a class, then I would stop or there'd be too much going on and I would fail the class. So I thought, ‘I'm done. I can't get it, it's not meant for me.’”
Littlepaige tried to put aside those ambitions. However, her desire to care for others never wavered.
“I love taking care of people and that never went away. I realized this is in me, it's my heart. And I decided I would give it one more go and finish the course,” Littlepaige said.
Having never applied for an education award before, Littlepaige didn’t know what to expect. However, she noted Turner was helpful throughout the process. She was excited to learn she’d been selected as one of the recipients and it reaffirmed she’s on the right path.
“I'm a firm believer in God, so I felt like this was a sign. My mom told me, ‘This is what you're supposed to be doing. This is the door that's opening for you, so go through it.’”
With just a couple of classes remaining, Littlepaige looks forward to completing her nursing education and being able to bring her compassion and positivity to patients. She’s interested in working in Obstetrics and Gynecology, though she’s excited to go wherever this path leads.
A career in nursing may seem inevitable for someone like Tyeonia Jake, who has numerous family members working in nursing and nursing-adjacent roles. But her desire to pursue the career arose out of a much more personal experience.
“I had the opportunity to be at the bedside of my 99-year-old grandmother who suffered a stroke,” Jake said. “I was able to provide periodic care and comfort to her until her final time with us.”
This time instilled in her a deep appreciation for caring for others and led her to the healthcare field.
“I’ve learned the importance of compassionate care and service for patients and families in their most vulnerable moments of their lives,” Jake said. “There’s no greater intrinsic reward than being able to see them go home better than they came in and knowing my contributions made even the slightest difference.”
Working in the ED, Jake enjoys the fast-paced environment and immediate care patients receive. She starts her nursing program next fall with the aim of advancing her nursing career in the ED. As a recipient of the Building Racial Diversity in Nursing Staff education award, that goal just became a little easier.
“This helps me in managing the associated costs of tuition and child care as a single parent of two,” Jake said. “And it gets me one step closer in the advancement of my nursing education and ultimately my career goals.”
Jake is grateful to work for an organization that recognizes the need for this award and has an eye on diversity in nursing.
“This will have an impact on culturally competent care,” Jake said. “When minority patients see or are cared for by someone who looks like them and who can relate to their experiences, they are more likely to be more open, transparent and trusting.”
Jake also anticipates that this will help address some of the undisclosed barriers minority groups face in pursing advanced patient care careers.
“I hope my role inspires other minority groups to pursue a career in nursing for the very purpose of reflecting the community that we serve,” Jake said. “With a more diverse nursing staff, enhanced patient care, service and experiences will follow.”
Congratulations to all the team members selected to receive awards through the Building Racial Diversity in Nursing Staff fund:
|Sarah Beck||Carle Tower 6B|
|Ariell Burks||Windsor Family Med|
|Danyale Gardner||CT9A med/surg|
|Debriana Giboney||Family Medicine - Curtis|
|Tyeonia Jake||Emergency Department|
|Shannetta Jenkins||Windsor Road Family Medicine|
|Adrienne Littlepaige||Danville-Fairchild Family Medicine|
|Nichole Pearson||Home Health Intake/Referral|
|Teshema Scott||Environmental Services|
If you’d like to make a contribution to this fund to help support next year’s recipients, go to carle.org/giving/make-a-gift and select the Building Racial Diversity in Nursing Staff option to donate.