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by Amanda Crane, Bossier Press-Tribune
Deaf woman graduates Certified Nursing Assistant course
Amanda Crane/Press-Tribune | Angie Allen, interpreter from the Betty and Leonard Phillips Deaf Action Center in Shreveport, translates for Annie Allen (seated, far right) during Wednesday afternoon's Certified Nurse Assistant graduation ceremony at Bossier Parish Community College.
On Wednesday afternoon, nine students from Bossier Parish Community College made the transition from college student to official Certified Nurse Assistants. Annie Allen of Bossier City was among those to graduate from the program.
Like her classmates, Annie met all of the qualifications to graduate from the program; she completed all coursework with a grade of “C” or higher and scored at least 70 percent on the final exam. However, there is one trait that sets her apart from her eight other classmates – she’s deaf.
After moving closer to the BPCC campus, Annie decided to give the CNA program a shot. However, she wasn’t real sure if it would work out.
“It was very hard for me, but I decided that I was going to try and I was going to do it until I was successful,” Annie said via translator.
The CNA program teaches students about medical terminology, health care safety, patient care and engages students in practice lab situations and on-site clinicals training.
Marilyn Wright, CNA program coordinator at BPCC, said that Annie was just like any other student enrolled in the course.
“Annie did not receive any special treatment as far as the program is concerned,” Wright said. “She had to meet all of the criteria and requirements and she did it. All we had to do was make sure the interpreter was there for her.”
During class time, Annie used a translator from the Betty & Leonard Phillips Deaf Action Center in Shreveport to translate lectures. Once she got into clinicals, a translator went with her to a location and explained the different hands-on activities she had to do.
Angie Evans, interpreter and Office Manager at the Deaf Action Center, has been with Annie since the beginning of her journey to becoming a CNA. She was also there to translate for her during the graduation ceremony Wednesday afternoon.
Angie said the excitement of seeing Annie finish the program was overwhelming.
“It was really exciting to see her go through the class. CNA classes are challenging anyway with the medical terminology and all,” Angie said. “Everyone at our office is just so excited. We feel like if she made it, we’ve made it.”
Although the work load was heavy at times, Annie said her classmates really pulled through and worked together during clinicals.
“There was so much work to do, but you have to work as a team. They would show me what to do and I got a clear picture of what a CNA was supposed to do,” she said.
Annie said interacting with her fellow classmates wasn’t an issue. She added that some students even learned a little sign language in order to communicate with her.
“We really worked together and became a good team and friends. They learned their own way of communicating with me and accepted me and treated me like anyone else,” she said. “We didn’t have any problems as a team trying to communicate.”
Annie said she is determined to make the best out of life with the experience she has gained and from the experience she hopes to gain in the future.
“I just want to show everyone that I can do it and I know I’m not perfect, but I’m learning and getting better and better,” she said. “I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m just going to keep on keeping on. I’m going to find me a place to work and get more experience in education and just see what I can do.”
Annie said the CNA program has really taught her a lot about herself and has shown her that she can do anything she wants to achieve.
“Even though it was hard and a challenge for me, I was successful. I’ve learned that I can and that I’m a capable person,” she said. “I appreciate BPCC because they really worked with me and helped me with interpreters.”
Amanda Crane/Press-Tribune | Pictured (seated left to right) are Krystle Moore, Carol Mitchell, Brandy Mendoza, Gwen Hart, (standing left to right) Annie Allen, Crystal Anderson, Patricia Antley, Carolyn Knebl and Tiffany Tyler.
Wright said that Annie’s journey can be an inspirational story for anyone.
“To see anyone come in and succeed at doing something they want to do makes it all worth while,” Wright said. “The sky is the limit; you can do anything you want and you can be anything you want. BPCC, I know, is here to help anybody in the community that wants to succeed in their chosen field.”
Also graduating with Annie were Crystal Anderson, Patricia Antley, Gwen Hart, Carolyn Knebl, Brandy Mendoza, Carol Mitchell, Krystle Moore and Tiffany Tyler.
Perfect attendance certificates were awarded to Patricia Antley and Krystle Moore. The award for the highest grade point average went to Gwen Hart.
To learn more about the Certified Nurse Assistant program at BPCC, visit www.bpcc.edu/continuingeducation. From there, click on the red CNA tab on the left side of the page. The Betty and Leonard Phillips Deaf Action Center is located at 601 Jordan Street in Shreveport. For more information, visit www.deafactioncenter.org.