WAYNESBURG – What if your son or daughter could graduate high school with a marketable skill, one that could immediately propel them into the workforce,or give them an edge into and/or help pay for their higher education? That option exists at the Greene County Career and Technology Center (GCCTC).
A licensed practical nurse for more than 20 years, Tracy Russell, 42, of Waynesburg, said she knew what she wanted to do with her life from an early age.
“I always wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember. My mom was an aide at the old Curry Home and then worked at Rolling Meadows (nursing home),” Russell said. “She retired after working for 35 years, so nursing was what I knew growing up and where I was most comfortable.”
At Mapletown High School, she made the decision to attend the technology center, or vo-tech, as it was called when she was in high school. Russell enrolled in the health assistant program and graduated in 1989 with the skills to quickly secure employment in personal care homes.
“I tried to get into the practical nursing program (at GCCTC) right out of high school, but they had more enrolled than they could take at the time,” she said. “I was still a kid and probably didn’t take the interview as seriously as I could have.”
Three years later, Russell returned to GCCTC where she would graduate with the practical nursing class of 1993. A new mother and wife at that time, Russell said she saw it as a way to better things for herself and her family. It was a decision she never regretted.
“When I got divorced, I knew I would be OK. I can support myself and I can get a job anywhere,” she said. “Work is always available. There will always people who are going to be sick.”
Shortly after graduation from the practical nursing program, Russell began work at Kade Nursing Home in Washington. She is still there, providing care for patients from 25 to 104 years of age, and she said there is never a dull moment.
She credits the programs she took at GCCTC with preparing her for this job and more recently for her work as a detox nurse in a part-time capacity for Greenbriar Treatment Center. Russell said she “absolutely loves” the work at Greenbriar.
She gave this advice to students considering attending the GCCTC: “You have to study. You can’t mess around and party and do all of that stuff. You can’t be a slacker. You have to go in and be serious about it. When I started at Kade I felt like I knew what I was doing. I knew what I was talking about and I was confident in what I was doing (because of the GCCTC).”
Russell said she just shakes her head when she hears someone say they are going to pay for a technology program when they have the same opportunities at GCCTC.
“If you go to school somewhere else and take a medical assistant program, you spend 18 months and you owe all of this money,” Russell said, noting she received the same training for free as a high school student at the GCCTC. “These colleges are just looking for money.”
The practical nursing program at GCCTC is considered an adult education program, and tuition is charged. The medical assistant program is free. More information is available about this and other programs on the GCCTC website at www.grvt.org