Helping Hands

At a recent summer's writing conference at Yale, I experienced a student's life on campus. It included sleeping in a cramped, dirty, un-airconditioned, uncomfortable dorm, and dining hall privileges. I was pleasantly surprised by a delicious buffet everyday and with the genuinely friendly and efficient staff. I needed directions to the restroom and asked a lovely woman worker in the kitchen, about twenty, to help me. Explaining that it was too complicated to tell, she took me by the hand and walked me through a maze of hallways. She stopped at one expansive window that looked into a series of other smaller windows leading back into the impressive dining room and shared that it was her favorite view on campus. Still holding her hand, I inquired if she was an art or architecture student. "Oh no. I just work in the kitchen." I asked her what else she would like to be doing. She told me that would like to become a nurse's assistant. Surprised, I asked if she wanted to be a caretaker or become another part of the heath profession. She thought about it and answered: the health profession. Still holding hands, I asked if she knew the differences in salary and benefits between a nurse and a nurse's aide. She didn't. I asked if she knew of any medical tech training programs. She didn't. I suggested that she might be eligible to enroll in a health program or certificate for free or low tuition right there on campus. I told her to go to the University Career Center to research technical training in the health field and accredited programs to apply for. And, I added, to ask for help in filling out applications plus scholarship and financial aid forms.

Still holding my hand, she smiled at a sudden future for herself.

To begin, you begin.