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Starting from scratch in a new place, but still holding strong to her roots

Preparing to go to college can make anyone nervous, even the best of us. But for Kashna, going to college meant assimilating into a culture that was still fairly new to her, while also learning and studying in her non-native native language.

Kashna immigrated to the Eastern Shore from Haiti when she was 20 years old She had some family support but was otherwise learning a new culture and  looking for a new career in an unfamiliar place. She asked her cousin where she should start,and she recommended taking a look at Eastern Shore Community College (ESCC).

She wasn’t comfortable with her English, but after a pre-test for the ESL program, the faculty at ESCC encouraged her to take a leap and dive straight into the GED program.

“I was scared, honestly, I was nervous,” Kashna said. “When your first language is Creole…I took a leap of faith and said I’m going to start it. I spent six months in the class, passed all my tests and I really wanted to start a career.”

After earning her GED, Kashna enrolled in the healthcare fundamentals IET course to help prepare her for the nurse aid program. Thanks to FastForward, she didn’t pay anything out of pocket – something that she said was “life-saving.”

Kashna is self-sufficient, and her and her sister live on their own and pay for everything without the support of her parents.

“The FastForward program, it was like something that came from the sky. It was a great opportunity for me,” she said.

While the affordability and accessibility of the FastForward program may have been a gift to Kashna, it is one that she is paying forward each day.

“I went into this program because I really wanted to help people” Kashna said. “My mom and dad help so many people, they don’t even know, they just want to help. I wanted to follow in their footsteps, and when you’re working in a healthcare setting, you’re helping people every day.”

Kashna passed the written exam for earning her nurse aide credential and takes her skills demonstration this summer. Her short-term goal is to complete the LPN program, and she hopes to be an RN in the next five years. For anyone else who may be looking to start a new career – whether they’ve been in Virginia 10 days or 10 years, just to go for it.

“You don’t have to be scared, when you go there, you find the right people there to help you. Just go for it,” she said. “Don’t be scared to move forward with your dream. You can do whatever you want, be whoever you want to be, you just have to be consistent and believe in yourself.”

If you’re looking to start a new career, visit our contact us page to get connected to a local career coach at your community college. You can also explore our training catalog to see what training options are available where you live.