Christina left school at sixteen to be self-supporting. She enrolled at VAL at thirty to earn her high school diploma. She graduated from Castleton University with her BSN in May 2021.
“The landlord didn’t ask if I was eighteen (she was sixteen),” Christina said with a laugh. “I wanted to be independent so I moved out. I started working two jobs, at a kennel and as a housekeeper.”
By age thirty, Christina was married with two school-aged children. She was a stay at home mom. Once her children started school she, knew she needed to make a change.
“My children were in school and I wanted them to know the importance of education,” Christina said. “How could I tell them to do their homework if I didn’t live up to those expectations? When I put my foot in the door at VAL, I was ashamed. I felt like an adult with no education. The VAL teachers were so welcoming! They treat everyone with respect and help you achieve your goals. They’re so compassionate and caring. They know there are barriers—they’re always willing to listen. Everybody is there to help students strive and achieve their goals.”
Christina earned her high school diploma at VAL at age 32. She then earned her Associate Degree in Allied Health from the Community College of Vermont (CCV) before graduating from the Licensed Practical Nursing program at Vermont Technical College (VTC). Not long after graduating, she separated from her husband. She then went on to earn her BSN from Castleton University. Today, Christina is thriving at her dream job as a Clinical Case Manager for Bayada Home Health in Rutland, Vermont.
Christina had to work very hard to polish her writing and math skills while at VAL to earn her high school diploma. She credits her VAL teachers for sticking with her, encouraging her to push forward in her studies.
“Bridget (VAL High School Completion Plan Manager at the time) introduced me to the plans and projects needed to complete every subject,” Christina said. “ When I was close to graduation, I remember Bridget asking me about college, then Bridget laughed and said, ‘you just looked at me like a deer in headlights!’”
“Janet (VAL Teacher) helped me with my writing,” Christina said. “She showed me how to be more descriptive and get my point across. She also taught me how to take the mumbo jumbo out of my writing.”
VAL provided additional guidance as Christina attended CCV, supporting her in developing college level writing skills. Christina diligently worked her way through complex anatomy and physiology classes as she prepared to seek admission to VTC’s LPN program. After Christina received her LPN, she went on to Castleton University’s Nursing program, to complete her BSN.
Christina deadpans with a bit of humor when it comes to earning a nursing degree: “You sleep less than your GPA, drinking pots of coffee and eating Ramen Noodles! I was never book smart. I have to re-read material to digest it and there I was in classes, an adult with all of these young kids. It was my chance to show my kids the importance of education.”
Christina values her work as an LPN before earning her BSN. She credits her experience with helping her understand what clients need to be able to remain in their homes via Bayada services.
“I support clients throughout the Rutland region,” Christina said, “and I rely on my team—my home health aids—to let me know what clients need, whether that’s personal care or help with cooking. When I worked as an LPN in a nursing home, I heard from clients that they didn’t want to be there and wanted to go home. I appreciate being able to care for people at their most vulnerable time in their lives. My job is to find creative ways to help people stay at home while keeping clients and caregivers safe. I love my job!”
“Christina approached her high school completion studies with enthusiasm and a sense of humor,” said VAL teacher Ginny Dugan. “As a student, Christina also set an example of how to work through challenges and was a source of encouragement and support for her fellow classmates. She was a pleasure to work with and I am thrilled that she’s kept in contact with us at VAL throughout completing her college degree and embarking on her career.”