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“I always wanted to be a nurse, but I ended up as a secretary. In Togo, only those with money can pursue professional degrees. GPA and hard work don’t matter. Here, I know they do. I wanted to come to America to fulfill my career potential. The Institute is helping me do that…. I came to America alone. I was afraid of the weather, the whiteness and whether or not I would make it here.”

In 2006 Abra walked through the Institute doors for the first time, passed the Nursing Assistant entrance exam, and began again on her journey toward a never-forgotten dream. After successfully completing the Nursing Assistant Training Program, Institute staff helped Abra find a full-time, permanent position with St. Anthony Park Home.

During her time at St. Anthony Park Home, Abra grew close to the residents in her care:

“They are so lovely. I can’t wait to finish my required work so I can spend time with them and hear their stories. They tell stories about the past. They are like my parents… my mom is very old, and when I am with them, I feel like I am helping her, too.”

After six years as a nursing assistant, Abra continued her journey to fully realizing her childhood dream. Once again, Abra walked through the Institute doors, eager to improve her language skills and expand her nursing education. The Institute’s College Readiness course prepared Abra for college, and the Institute’s Medical Career Advancement services provided Abra with academic advising and tuition assistance while attending Saint Paul College’s LPN program.

That help has made a difference. Abra successfully completed her LPN program. She is now working at Recover Health, a home care company. She hopes to continue her studies and complete her RN and MSN degrees with a focus on gerontology so she can help those in her care even more.

Looking back on the steps that have led her here and the path ahead, Abra says,

“In life we struggle. It’s important to face it. You must embrace the struggle and march on. I am still on the journey struggling to be an American, I am still scared of traffic and the weather and other things American. But I am on the path and I am moving forward.”