December 19, 2014

ANSON C. SMITH AT 203-332-5229

HCC Student Wins National Competition
Best Success Story
Completes Non-Credit Programs

Maria Torres

CAMERA ACTION – Bridgeport resident and Housatonic Community College student Maria Torres received national recognition earlier this month, when her success story topped all others to win the national Health Profession Opportunity Grants Program competition.

Torres had been a promising high school student who wanted to attend college before life derailed her hopes. She suffered a series of setbacks, culminating in the loss of her job three years ago. She did what she could to take care of her two children, including dead-end jobs at call centers.

At this point, she decided to do something else. Having always wanted to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, she looked into an opportunity at the Health CareeRx Academy to pursue this. The Academy provides unemployed and low-income people with education and training for well-paying health-care jobs. It makes financial assistance available to students.

Torres encountered more obstacles to overcome. She would have to take – and pass – the CASAS basic skills test to qualify for the program.

The CASAS test results were a disappointment. “They were lower than I expected,” she said. They weren’t horrible, but I needed a refresher course on my math and Reading/English”

She took the course, retook the test and her scores went way up. “It made me even more excited to get going,” she said.

In February, she enrolled in Housatonic’s non-credit CNA program offered through the Continuing Education department. She finished it the following month… and was ready for another challenge: HCC’s non-credit Patient Cate Technician certificate program, which includes administering electrocardiograms, phlebotomy, health care business, and human anatomy and biology.

Having finished the PCT course, she was ready for more. She will take another course in Phlebotomy that starts in January, 2015. “I want to be confident that I am providing superior services to my patients,” she said.

Where would she like to be in 10 years? “Working for a dialysis center,” she said. “In the long run, I would like to become a dialysis RN.”

“The Academy made it all happen,” she said. “The financial assistance was very helpful,” she said. “They provided me with tuition, books, a bus pass, and even uniforms, shoes and a stethoscope – all the instruments I would need.”

She attributes her success to the Academy and the support it gave her, “The Academy got me through a lot,” she said. “It got me to where I want to be right now. Anyone who comes through the program would be blessed to do it.”

Housatonic’s next Certified Nursing Assistant Program starts Jan. 12, while its next Patient Care Technician program starts March 9. For more information, contact Continuing Education at 203-332-5057.