Newsletters 2015-16 Focus newsletter, [3] winter - Page 5

COMMUNITY EDUCATION PAGE 5 Metro North Adult Basic Education (ABE): Paving the road to college and careers Amy Plemel shares her journey to a health care career and a better future for her family. Community collaborations between local colleges, workforce programs, counties, and ABE make this support possible. Metro North Adult Basic Education (ABE) student, Amy Plemel, 43, struggled through high school academically before she dropped out over 26 years ago. It took going through the ABE program three times before she was finally able to turn things around, earning the Minnesota Standard Adult High School Diploma and the title of Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Home Health Care Aide. Try, try again In the eight years after Plemel dropped out of high school, she enrolled in adult basic education twice without success. “I couldn’t get the math, it was just way too advanced for me,” Plemel explained. Frustrated, she went ahead and took a semester of classes at ARCC, anyway, and passed good grades - but ultimately couldn’t move on without her GED or high school diploma. Picking herself and her family up Plemel went on to have twin boys, one of whom was diagnosed with autism at age 10. After watching home health care aides work with her autistic son at occupational therapy appointments each week, she developed an interest in the nursing and health care field. “I saw how much they changed his life and how important they were in his diagnosis,” Plemel says. Shortly after, Plemel was faced with her own health challenges in January 2014. As she met with doctors, nurses and people in the health care field herself, her family and friends pointed out some of the similar character traits that Plemel had in common with her health care team – being caring, outgoing and sensitive to the needs of others. Plemel began to entertain the idea of going back to school again, this time to pursue health care. “My family was struggling financially because I was sick and out of work,” she said. “I set a goal; I wanted to go a year without being sick and without being on a bunch of medications before going back to school, getting a job and getting back on my feet,” she explained. High-quality programs give students sustainable opportunities Plemel came back to Metro North ABE in April 2015 and enrolled in Health Care Pathways – a collaborative program between Metro North ABE, Anoka-Hennepin Technical College, ARCC and the Anoka County Workforce Center. The program gave her a jumpstart on pursuing a health care career with specialized, hands-on training at The Homestead Senior Living and Care Community in Anoka. Health Care Pathways is just one of the career pathway programs available to students that want to pursue a career that will place them in a field with job openings and a sustainable wage. “We regularly collaborate with local businesses and organizations to ensure that the programming we provide will prepare and train our students to acquire the skills sought here – in our own neighborhoods and community,” explains Pat Adams, Metro North ABE manager. Other pathways include precision sheet metal and office/administrative technology careers. students find affordable child care, fix broken computers or attain refurbished ones to complete coursework, coordinate rides if the family vehicle breaks down, assist students with special needs, provide advocacy, additional coursework support, career counseling and access to work experience and internships,” Adams said. Plemel attended a recruitment event coordinated by the Anoka County Workforce Center and now serves a private family as a Home Health Care Aide, and was just hired as a substitute CNA at Crestview Senior Communities in Columbia Heights. Between the two jobs, Plemel is able to work flexible hours while earning a livable wage to support her family. She hopes to one day a