Healthcare Training, Nursing, Education

Student Success Stories

Julie had been homeless not long before starting CATCH. She had worked in a casino and was overwhelmed and exhausted from seeing people lose money and fall deeper into addictions. Julie is a recovered alcoholic. When she first started CATCH, we could see her lack of confidence non-verbally and when she spoke. CATCH staff encouraged her to participate in class discussions, study groups and to reach out to peers and staff. She started to change. Once she received her computer, it was another new learning curve. She stuck with it and worked often with the Business Access Mentor learning new programs.


One day Julie told us she had an interview, since she already had a home care aide certification. She didn’t think she had a chance for the job, her lack of self-confidence kept creeping in. The next day, she came to class with the good news, she was hired. She couldn’t believe it and gave us all of the credit for interview preparation.


During each course, Julie came to the college early to study and stayed late after each session. She studied often and picked up the material quickly. She also worked through the duration of her CATCH career; sometimes she was able to study at work and that was very helpful for her. Julie’s computer skills increased as she continued using Canvas and Word for assignments. We saw her confidence increase as she was in the CATCH Program. Her A&P presentation and work with other students helped her confidence. She made very good friends during the program and everyone was a support to each other.


Julie finished her second certificate, EKG and was the top student in the course. She led a study group, gaining more confidence. A scholarship opportunity through CATCH was announced and Julie knew she wanted to complete the Patient Care Technician Program at Edmonds Community College. She already had the EKG class and only needed two more quarters. CATCH staff met her at Edmonds Community College to introduce her to new staff and help her feel comfortable.


Julie completed the emergency room technician course, as well as phlebotomy. Now she is taking advanced CNA. She loves studying, learning and meeting new people. Her confidence has obviously grown tremendously. Then one day Julie confided in CATCH staff regarding a domestic violence situation she had been trying to endure. She had enough and made the decision to reach out. The person she was involved with was taking her pay check away, as well as her mail box key and had a key to her apartment. Another CATCH student, someone around the same age and a student from Edmonds currently in EKG at Everett let CATCH staff know about rooms for rent in her house. The two students were connected and now Julie is ready to move to a safe environment. The other student is struggling financially and it is a relief to her that Julie has a job and can pay rent. They have a lot in common and are looking forward to getting to know each other.


Julie keeps telling us that this is a miracle and we are saving her from a terrible situation. After days of tears and several meetings with CATCH staff, she is so grateful and appreciative for a new start. She walked at the college graduation in June and at the CATCH Celebration in October and really feels like a success. She keeps crediting CATCH staff for doing so much for her, but we remind her that she did all of the work, we were a support. She loves to give hugs and they keep on coming. After completing the Patient Care Tech Program at Edmonds CC, Julie now has a full time Patient Care Tech position at Swedish Medical Center in Edmonds.


Patient Care Tech


Virgina Mason

Two years ago Edwin Lelkoi was a successful young man with great ambitions, until his world fell apart after the loss of his job. Edwin moved to Washington looking for employment; he found a job cleaning hotel rooms. The wages were low ($9.03 an hour), and so were the hours. Edwin was barely bringing in $800 a month; he couldn't afford his rent and lost his apartment. A co-worker offered up a walk-in closet for $250 a month, which was at least affordable.


The misery in which Edwin found himself led him to alcoholism, getting drunk every day in attempts to forget his suffering. One day, while at the bar, a stranger approached him. They began talking over drinks, and the stranger offered up an alternative to Edwin's dilemma: CATCH.


CATCH would pay for two certificates in Health Care, and assist in finding a job with livable wages. Though this was a doorway to a brighter life, things were not easy in the beginning. Edwin persisted, working five days a week and attending classes full time. With the encouragement and support of CATCH staff, Edwin reduced his working hours and continued on.


Through out the program Edwin worked hard, knowing that his efforts would pay off in the long run. After obtaining his CNA certification, he sent out his resume,  receiving five invitations to interview. The interviews went well and Edwin took a job he enjoyed. Edwin is currently finishing his Phlebotomy class, and works two jobs comfortably. "[I] live happily, earning $3,400 a month... because the CATCH team made me a strong and proud man."




Nursing Assistant


Cottages of Mill Creek

Marleny Flores, recent recipient of her CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) Certificate of Completion, has just landed her first job in healthcare!


Prior to CATCH, Marleny was a volunteer at Everett Community College, working with recycling. Now, she has accepted a full time position with SunRise Service, Inc., making $11.50 an hour to start. Along with a pay increase after taking her State Exam this week, she will be receiving full benefits!


Marleny had this to say about her recent accomplishment: "I'm so happy that I got this Job... I thank God for that, and everybody that helped me. I also want to thank Jared Schapiro because I sent him my resume and he helped me fix it. I feel blessed that God put people like you in my way. Thank you!"


Though Marleny has already taken a huge step toward greater success, she isn't done yet: an EKG certificate is in progress now. Keep going, Marleny; we know you will make it far!



Nursing Assistant


Sunrise Services

As a single Mom, the well-being of her little boy has always been Samantha’s main focus. When she started CATCH, Samantha was on TANF and Food Assistance and had several stressful barriers to overcome. She needed a stable place to live.  Samantha knew she needed to make some tough choices to better her life for herself and her son.


She always liked the idea of working in Healthcare, but did not have the tools or financial means to pursue the education required. When Samantha heard about CATCH, she jumped at the opportunity. Navigating through the cohort experience allowed Samantha to learn to reach out to others. This was a challenge for her, as she was very shy and introverted. With the support of CATCH, WorkFirst and Workforce Snohomish, Samantha completed the program and received her nursing assistant certification.


She started a volunteer position with a prominent healthcare facility. Then Samantha decided to continue her studies in healthcare and enrolled in more college courses. Her stability and successes outside the classroom have proven to be the most valuable.


Now she is working as a nursing assistant where she was volunteering. Samantha credits the CATCH staff and experience in helping her to get to where she is today.




Nursing Assistant


Bethany at Pacific

Two years ago, Tony Clemente was making his daily 60 mile commute to his job as a Line Operator at a gypsum recycling plant. Heavy snowfall had collected on the highway that morning and Tony’s car spun out of control leaving him facing on-coming highway traffic. Luckily, he was not injured and was able to safely get his car to the shoulder and arrange for tow. Tony had been frustrated by his long commute for quite some time and the extreme physical nature of his work was taking a toll on his body. He had been hesitant to look for other work because he lacked internal motivation and self-confidence that he could shift his life in a different direction.


In a previous life, Tony served as a Hospital Corpsman in the US Navy for over four years. After completing his service, Tony went on to work as a Patient Care Technician in regional hospital in Alaska. He moved to Virginia a few years later for family reasons. Struggling to find work in healthcare, Tony took a job laying foundation and had been working in various construction and manufacturing jobs ever since.


In 2007, Tony began experiencing significant family problems. His teenage son was extremely rebellious, truant, and began using heavy drugs. He eventually dropped out of high school, left home, and began living on the streets. About this same time, Tony’s wife filed for divorce. It felt like his whole life was falling apart. He felt powerless.


This is when Tony began working as a Line Operator. While the commute was long and the job physically demanding, it represented the only predicable and stable part of his life.


The spin out on the highway was a breaking point for him. He visited a WorkSource employment center a few days later determined to make a change in his life. Tony met with an employment specialist and discussed his background and employment goals. After hearing about his extensive experience in healthcare, the employment specialist recommended that he apply for the CATCH program.


It had been a long time since Tony had been in school. Pencil and paper were replaced by touch screen laptops, blackboards by smart boards, and course syllabus by e-learning systems. On top of all of that, most of the students were 20 years younger than him. Tony was overwhelmed and considered quitting on several occasions. CATCH provided Tony with the structure and holistic support he need to persevere and progress toward his goal of returning to the healthcare field.


The program began with a College Success course that helped Tony get re-acclimated to school while offering tips on study strategies, time management, and other important academic skills. Tony, who previously had limited exposure to technology, also received a free laptop and digital literacy training that helped develop important computer skills that are essentially required in the modern workplace. A representative from Business Access continued to provide one-on-one tech support throughout the program. In addition to the academic and technical support, Tony also received intensive support services from CATCH program navigators and staff. He met with instructional assistants to identify his career goals and develop an education plan. He attended employment workshops to work on resume writing and interviewing skills and met regularly with the Employment Navigator to revise his resume and search for job opportunities.


Reflecting on his experience in the CATCH program, Tony said that one of the biggest supports for him was the program’s cohort model. He saw that many of his classmates had experienced significant hardships and barriers to education and career development and felt like he was not alone. He quickly developed strong friendships and emotional bonds with many of the students in his cohort. Without this, and the wrap around support from the CATCH staff, Tony doubts that he would have made it through the program.


After completing his training as a Certified Nursing Assistant, Tony attended a series of on-campus interviews arranged by the Employment Navigator. Tony impressed the interviewers so much that he was soon offered a job at their home care agency. He has now worked with this organization for 6 months while pursuing further training as an EKG Tech. Tony would ultimately like to work as a Patient Care Tech in a local hospital. With his updated skills and new sense of empowerment, he is well on his way to achieving this goal as well.




Nursing Assistant


Right at Home

My name is Heather and I am a mother of 4, a wife, and an employee. In the last year, my life has taken many turns. Not only I have experienced the death of my mother, but also got diagnosed with a serious disease. It was devastating . I never dreamed I'd be able to go back to school because there were always obstacles standing in my way until I heard about the CATCH program.  I was so intrigued by this program and thought it would be a perfect fit for me.


Why CATCH? CATCH is a gift and a safety net! Since I was a child I wanted to work in the healthcare field. CATCH offers the certificates I seek to become a knowledgeable and well trained healthcare professional. It is the perfect program that has been helping me meet my needs as a low income student in so many ways. The CATCH dedicated staff provide help and support every step of the way. They provide guidance and intensive support throughout the program. The students all have the same goal of succeeding, finding a job, and becoming self-efficient to support our families and have a better life.


On a personal level, since starting CATCH in July, 2014 I have begun to build confidence in myself, putting myself out there, accepting more opportunities and believing I can accomplish them. CATCH also has enabled me to cope with my serious illness as it keeps me busy and goal focused. As for the skills this program provides me with the knowledge, skills, and tools I need to be successful in the medical field. I have built employable skills from the courses I have taken such as introduction to healthcare, medical terminology and anatomy and physiology. For instance, I have learned how to provide patients with an outstanding caregiving experience using the skills and knowledge I have learned. This definitely gives me the confidence to find a job in the healthcare field and excel at it.


I took EKG and nursing assistant after the foundation courses. I will either look for a healthcare job or further my education by applying for financial aid, and working toward a degree in nursing.  Either way, I truly feel opportunity is waiting around every corner, and I credit that to CATCH.


CATCH has definitely transformed my life by enabling me to overcome the challenges I have had in my life. I recommend this awesome program to anyone thinking about pursuing a career in the medical field or pursuing CATCH. It is so worth it!




Nursing Assistant


Private Care

My story starts like many CATCH students. I became unemployed due to a layoff. At the time, I was a receptionist with no real skill or trade. I had not received my GED and never gave school a second thought. I wasn't crazy about going to school any longer than I absolutely needed to.


A year later I found myself pregnant and in a domestic violence situation. It was tough to leave someone who was abusive and also your source of income. After a few tries I finally got away for good. I went on to complete my GED and apply to CATCH.


My first day in CATCH, I started looking for an excuse to skip Penny's Job Development class. My assumption was that it was another hoop to jump through just to get our computers! What I didn't realize at the time was that this class, I believe, set me up for each class and assignment ahead of me. Not only that, the class conditioned my mind for college and life. Penny's class left me feeling renewed and eager to be the best student I was capable of.


Like anything in life, I hit a rough patch mid-program. Phlebotomy was something I've always wanted to do and was the reason I took a liking to this program. I did very well in our condensed classes so far but to my surprise, I failed my skill set in Phlebotomy. Despite loving the class, I still failed. I was pretty upset and even cried a bit but I was hopeful about being able to retry the skill set.


  It was a great surprise when CATCH announced in an email there would be no more retaking of our skills set since the new class capacity was already filled with the new cohort coming in. I was so upset I didn't have many words at all. Here I was, just about to complete the program with not much to show for it. I truly felt abandoned and hurt. In response to my assumption that CATCH had left me out to dry, I pretty much "quit" everything. I was so angry that I set myself to fail the entire program. I didn't reply to instructor emails, CATCH calls/emails also. This was my way of rebelling even though I knew it would ultimately hurt me. For weeks this went on until my housing advocate from Housing Hope reached out to me. She told me that CATCH had been trying to get in touch with me they were worried and concerned because they hadn't heard from me.


She talked me into meeting with CATCH. In that meeting, I learned that no one had forgotten me at all. Because I accepted "no" instead of taking that email and creating a chance for myself, I missed out on taking my CNA Exam with the rest of my class, even though I had passed the academic portion and completed my CNA externship. I stood in the way of my own certification, not CATCH. The opportunity to retake my skill set for Phlebotomy was offered to me as well. Had I responded, I would have known that. I re-took and passed my second chance at Phlebotomy.


Right after that, I started an externship at Overlake Medical Center where the staff and I connected immediately. I was so successful in my phlebotomy skills that I was encouraged to apply at the hospital before the end of my externship. A month later, I started as an employee! I love what I do and I'm honored to be a part of such a well-educated and trained staff. I have the CATCH Program to thank for that. This program single handedly changed my life. The CATCH Program gave me a skill that even in a tough economy, gave me an opportunity to finally be a provider to my son. I'm off state assistance now and I really feel I have something to contribute. CATCH was a blessing to me. I hope that it can be the same for many other who are serious about getting their life together.





Overlake Medical Center

Link to HPOG website.

Innovations in Creating Access To Careers in Healthcare (I-CATCH) is a Health Profession Opportunity Grant (HPOG) and is administered by Edmonds Community College.


This document was supported by Grant # 90FX0032-01-00 from the Administration for Children and Families, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of HHS.


HPOG is a study funded by the federal government which is being conducted to determine how these training opportunities help people improve their skills and find better jobs. During the study, all new eligible applicants will be selected by lottery to participate in these training opportunities. Not all eligible applicants will be selected to participate in these opportunities.


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Link to HPOG website.

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Link to HPOG website.
Link to HPOG website.