Our first success story is Anita Williams. 

Anita moved to Huntsville from Saint Louis to take care of her sister who had cancer. She traveled with her four kids in a van with one bag of personal belongings each. She had some drafting training in Saint Louis but her credentials were not recognized in Alabama. She enrolled in J.F. Drake State and was on honor roll three times. In her second year, she applied for and received an AOD scholarship in 2012. Her son, then 17, supported the family as the breadwinner and AOD helped her obtain a car to get to school. Anita was able to go straight through all six semesters and she graduated in August 2013.
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Tralushus had her first child as a young teen in Mississippi and another child at age 16. She had strong family support and graduated high school.    It was during high school she decided she wanted to be a nurse. She started on her journey by first becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) a year after she graduated high school.  As a CNA, she worked with elderly patients.  Her patients often requested her by name to care for them and she appreciated their many compliments. As a CNA, she worked under the supervision of a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).  Tralushus later heard about the LPN program at J.F. Drake State. She applied in 2013, was accepted, and then moved to Alabama to start classes in January 2014.  In 2013, she also married her husband.
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Sharee graduated high school in 2004 and went to Tennessee State University but had to drop out after getting pregnant. She struggled through working a variety of jobs and later got married.  They later had two more children.  Sharee decided to start her nursing career as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). She was awarded an AOD scholarship in August 2014 to attend a two-week intensive CNA course at J.F. Drake State.  The scholarship funded the tuition, scrubs/uniforms, and the fee for the state licensing exam which she passed.  Sharee was immediately employed as a caregiver after obtaining her
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Stephanie says she was a rebellious teen when living with her mom in California.  She got pregnant as a young teen. She did not tell her mom she was pregnant because her mom was a single mom and her dad was on drugs but Stephanie’s mother found out when she was six months pregnant. Her mother wanted her to have an abortion but Stephanie was determined to keep her child.  She did not care what anyone said, she had always wanted a baby. There were other girls pregnant at the same time she was, but she was the youngest. Her son’s dad was sent to a maximum security prison for stabbing someone when her son was just a year old. He got out of prison when her son was 9 but they never developed a relationship.  Stephanie’s mom
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Destiny Echandie is a new mom who completed the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training at J.F. Drake State in December 2015 on her 21st birthday.  Destiny was inspired to begin her nursing career while in high school. She left public high school to be home schooled so she could better help her mother care for her father who was ill with kidney cancer, which eventually took his life.  Destiny was one of five children adopted by her parents. Her biological parents were on drugs. Before her training, Destiny worked various retail and health aide positions.  Destiny completed her CNA training in December, 2015 and got her state CNA license in March 2016.  She now works full-time as a CNA at Millenium Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.  She accomplished her short-term goal of buying a decent car and is exploring a health career in orthodontics.

 

Mirlande graduated J.F. Drake State's Licensed Practical Nursing program in May 2016.  Mirlande and her husband are involved in respite foster care of kids.  Mirlande is active in her church and loves music.  Soon after graduation, she passed her state licensing test. She now works full-time as a charge nurse at a local nursing home. One of the benefits offered by her new employer (Diversicare) is tuition assistance which she will use toward earning her RN degree.

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Martha Collins completed the Licensed Practical Nursing program at  J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College in December 2015.   Martha worked two part-time jobs as a caregiver to pay the bills while she attended classes and raised her 17-year old daughter.  Martha has lived in the Huntsville area for seven years after moving here from Selma, Alabama.  She loves to help the elderly, especially those who don't have family able to visit often.  Martha passed her state license exam on January 27, 2016 and was hired February 19, 2016 as a full-time Licensed Practical Nurse at Millennium Nursing and Rehabilitation.  AOD thanks Amy Devers of Devers Consulting Group who helped Martha with her resume.  AOD will also be sending Martha to Financial Peace University.  Martha plans to eventually become a Registered Nurse.  She recently married Mr. Myron Johnson.  God is good!

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Ashley Battle is one of two scholarship recipients who completed Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training in May 2016 at J.F. Drake State Technical and Community College.  Each AOD scholarship covered the tuition, book, uniform patch, an allowance for scrubs, and the state exam fee.   AOD will also send Ashley to Financial Peace University after she is employed as a CNA.  Ashley's scholarship was made possible by a generous grant from Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama.

Denise Davis is one of two scholarship recipients who completed Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training in May 2016 at J.F. Drake State Technical and Community College.  Each AOD scholarship covered the tuition, book, uniform patch, an allowance for scrubs, and the state exam fee.   AOD will also send Denise to Financial Peace University after she obtains employment as a CNA.  Denise's CNA scholarship was made possible by a generous grant from Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama.

Kelli Hill graduated the pipe welding program at Global Tech Institute in Decatur, AL in November 2016 and is National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) certified .  She won an AOD scholarship funded by a generous grant from Dynetics in June 2016 to complete her training.  Her work as a student was noticed by a union representative who got her a job with the Tennessee Valley Authority where she helps maintains its plants.  Kelli is now working full-time with great pay and benefits. Her goals are to master pipe welding in the field and eventually become a welding inspector.  Kelli is our first student and graduate at Global Tech Institute.  AOD hopes to award additional welding scholarships in 2017.
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Monica graduated from Hazel Green High School with an Advanced Alabama High School Diploma in May 2005. She met her husband at church in 2004 and they married in November 2006. They now have 3 daughters, a 6-year old and 3-year old twins. She also has a few nieces and nephews who she has had a large hand in raising since they were born. Monica had never planned to go to college to further her education. She was happy working a retail job that she had for almost 10 years. In August 2013, one of her nieces was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). Monica immediately went with her niece and her mom to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. She traveled back and forth from Huntsville and Memphis for the month she was there while still tending to her own children. The impact the nurses at St. Jude’s made on her made her decide to be one of them.

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Tuneka Smith graduated Mississippi State in May 2017 with a bachelors degree in Criminology.  She is the first college graduate in her family and the first college graduate from the cadet year group August 2012 – May 2015 of Aberdeen High School Air Force Junior ROTC (Aberdeen, MS). Tuneka was selected for an AOD scholarship while AOD board member Jeff Coggin served as the Senior Aerospace Instructor for the JROTC program.  Tuneka plans to serve in the U.S. Air Force with a goal to later join the FBI.

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