There was a standing ovation and some tears of joy this week as seven immigrant women became the first graduating class of IINE’s newest Skills Training Course. The Creating New Avenues for Success (“CNA for Success “) program is a specialized workforce development course designed for immigrants seeking careers in the Certiﬁed Nursing Assistant (CNA) ﬁeld. A new collaboration between IINE-Lowell, Middlesex Community College, Abisi Adult Education, and eldercare services provider D’Youville Life & Wellness Community, this week’s graduation marked the successful completion of the inaugural term.
The graduation ceremony was held in the stained glass chapel at D’Youville, just a few yards away from the training classrooms where the CNA students had spent the previous 16 weeks. Speakers included Jeannine Durkin, Acting Superintendent of Schools for the City of Lowell, D’Youville President & CEO Naomi Prendergast, and Phil Sission, VP at Middlesex Community College. IINE’s CEO, Jeff Thielman, thanked all the organizations that collaborated to make the course possible, and congratulated the seven graduates on their accomplishment.
“We are proud to be here as you launch a new career and embark on a new chapter in your lives,” he said. “You have worked very hard to get to this point.”
The graduates are Lowell-area residents who are all fairly recent arrivals to the U.S. from: Mexico, Dominican Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Brazil, Uganda, and Nepal. Among the class was one set of sisters, and a tenacious new mom who delivered her baby the same week she graduated from the program!
The course is comprised of several modules that dovetail English classes, and involves IINE-Lowell providing contextualized English language instruction, soft-skills training and workforce- readiness training; Middlesex Community College providing a Certiﬁed Nursing Aide (CNA) module; and D’Youville providing guaranteed job-placement for graduates earning the CNA credential.
Student speakers Anabel Peralta and Sandra Kalambayi thanked their instructors and their families for the support each student received. Other students made note of how they expect the conclusion of this course to be only the beginning of a new career.
“When I came in Lowell, in my mind I had one thing: I want to study. I want to be somebody,” graduate Christelle Kalambayi said recently. “Now I want to go further. I don’t want to stop with a CNA. I want to go and to learn more to be LPN or RN!”
Enrollment begins next week for a new group of students who will start their CNA classes in June. More information can be found online at: https://iine.org/learnlowell.