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By CCWeek Staff  /  
2017 January 5 - 03:52 pm

Around Campus

A look at Campus Life at Various Community Colleges

The TRIO of Success Club, a Student Support Services organization at Gadsden State Community College (Ala.), spearheaded a drive to benefit Samaritan’s Purse International’s Operation Christmas Child. The project uses gift-filled shoeboxes to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world. “Beginning in October, club members placed collection boxes around campus for students and faculty to donate a variety of items to go in the shoeboxes,” said Christine Foster- Cates, TRIO Club Advisor. “The shoeboxes are then sent to less fortunate children around the world.”

Earlier this month, TRIO hosted a party to pack and organize the shoeboxes so they could send them in time for them to arrive before the holiday season begins. “We hope the children enjoy these gifts as much as we loved gathering items for them,” said Haleigh Roberson, a club member. Caleb Lloyd, also a member of the Trio of Success Club, packed several boxes with a washcloth, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste and school supplies as well as a special treat, such as a puzzle. “It feels more like Christmas when you spread joy to others,” he said. One Gadsden State graduate knows the joy an Operation Christmas Child shoebox brings at Christmas time. Natali Holt was eight hen the shoeboxes arrived at a rural church her father pastored in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. She said the congregation all came together to watch the children open their shoeboxes. “This was very exciting for an eightyear-old,” she said. “It’s a wonderful memory.”Holt, now 31 and a tutor at Gadsden State, remembers the boxes having temporary tattoos that said “I love Jesus” or “Jesus loves you.” To her, this was a Christian impression of the culture in the United States; one of being less materialistic.“The only other impressions I had were what I saw in the movies, music and art,” she said. For Holt and the children around her, the shoeboxes filled with goodies served as a compassionate outreach to share the story of Jesus. She remembers the letters that were sent in the boxes. “I was so impressed that people would take the time to write the letter and to wrap each box with wrapping paper,” she said. “That was really cool.” Holt has come a long way since celebrating Christmas in the rural Bolivian church. She came to the U.S. a decade ago to further her education and to learn English. She graduated from Gadsden State in 2011 with an associate degree in general studies before earning a bachelor’s degree in Education from Jacksonville State University. Her sister, Mariela Rios-Balboa has joined her in Gadsden to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.

One of the fastest growing professions in the world of health care also requires one of the shortest amounts of training time. The number of nursing assistant jobs in the U.S. totaled approximately 1.5 million in 2014, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that figure will grow 17 percent by 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The demand is attributed to an increasing elderly population requiring additional care.

“Even within our service area, we’ve noticed hospitals advertising more for nursing assistants than they did in the past,” said Kathy Harrison, nursing director at Mid-Plains Community College (Neb.). “It’s a good career for those who are compassionate and have a desire to help others.” Nursing assistants, also known as nurse aides, provide basic care for patients in a variety of settings including hospitals, residential care facilities and homes. Additionally, they are often responsible for lifting, moving and transporting patients. “It’s a good first step for someone wanting to go into health care,” said Harrison. “A lot of people try it to figure out what they want to do. I’ve had students start out in the nursing assistant program then become physical therapists, physician assistants or doctors.” Mid-Plains Community College’s Nursing Assistant program is open to students as young as 16. It consists of 76 classroom hours, during which theory and hands-on skills such as vital sign checks and feeding and bathing of patients are taught.

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