Career Development Specialist, IndianapolisLee-Ann
“In June, I will have been at Brightwood for three years. The short version of how I started working here was that I needed insurance. Before this, I was working with people with disabilities, so I switched industries completely but I’ve channeled everything I learned previously and applied it to this position.
As a Career Development Specialist, I prepare students for employment and help them find and secure jobs. I do a lot of work in the classroom on topics such as being professional, building a résumé, interviewing, etc. However, I also meet with the students one-on-one so they can practice and I can provide immediate feedback. I really want them to be successful and see them use what they train so hard for. They may not always interview well, but they definitely have the heart and skill. I also believe there is a job for everybody, so I try to marry the right graduate with the right employer.
“I really want them to be successful and see them use what they train so hard for.”
There is a lot of maturing and confidence building during our students’ schooling. It’s extremely rewarding to watch the evolution from when they first walk in to when they walk across the stage at graduation. Our student population is often non-traditional, they’re not fresh out of high school. They’re parenting, or they’re first generation. Because of this, I’ve seen their remarkable tenacity and resilience. I’ve learned more from my students than they’ll ever get from me.
I have one student who particularly sticks out. She’s currently in her final week of the Dental Assistant program and while at school, her mother entered hospice and passed away. Because of her mom, she never stopped going to school. She wanted her mom to see her finish — she didn’t get to — but she did it for her mom. I don’t know too many traditional college kids that could deal with that. At times, I felt that she and I were living parallel lives. I lost my husband last year, which was right around the time her mom got sick. Through the grief process, we became each other’s support systems. This is why after his death, I only took two or three days off because that’s what my students do. The love I got from my students is what kept me going.
“The love I got from my students is what kept me going.”
Another connection I have with my students was my own education. While working, I was able to finish my master’s this past January in higher education with an emphasis in student services. I now know what it is like to work and be a student! All the work and sacrifices I had to make to complete school are the same sacrifices they had to make.
Besides all my students, I also love my co-workers. I love walking around the school and catching up with various departments. I think keeping a community at school is so important because we are all in this together, and we all do love our students.
The main advice I tell them is that getting an education is one of the healthiest things you can do for your life. At times, it might be tough, but coming here is an investment that will pay off. No matter what, they have to show up and put on their seatbelts, because their life is going to change.”