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Becoming a CNA was Rising Professional Tatiana Frank’s Foot in the Door

Tatiana Frank was a 17-year-old De Anza High School student involved in Contra Costa College’s law enforcement youth academy, with her sites set on becoming a lawyer.

Then, a classmate told her about CCC’s Certified Nursing Assistant program. She says that completely changed her perspective.

“I started looking towards nursing a little bit,” she recalls. “So, I thought, Well, maybe this will give me a foot in the door and help me see if this is what I really want to do.

Tatiana was already very busy. Even as a high school student, she had to work as much as much as she was legally allowed, to help her grandmother pay bills.

During the CNA program, she spent her mornings in high school classes, her afternoons in the CNA course, then her evenings at work. Except on Thursdays and Fridays, when clinical experience for the CNA program kept her until seven.

“In high school,” she explains, “you can’t work past ten.”

“It was definitely something new. Especially for a 17-year-old.”

It was all a big adjustment, and Tatiana did have a few growing pains.

“I would say I was a problem student,” she says. “Not major problems. I turned in my work. But, I’m not gonna lie, I did have an attitude.”

A young student used to a high school environment, Tatiana wasn’t entirely aware of what was appropriate in a college environment. A meeting was called, and Tatiana says that some people floated the idea of booting her from the program. Luckily for everyone, she stayed–and her attitude improved tremendously.

Today, Tatiana says her memories of Contra Costa College are great. Her instructors worked with her to improve her outlook, and her classmates were there for support. Tatiana says that the high school cohort and adult sections were all pretty close as a larger group, and were there to support each other.

“It was actually pretty easy,” she says. “It was very hands-on. On Thursdays and Fridays, we would go to the skills lab, which was pretty cool.”

During the last half of the program, students moved on to clinicals—real-life experience in actual care facilities, where Tatiana loved getting to know the patients.

“The patients were funny,” she says. “They were storytellers. Getting to know the patients definitely want to come back and work again.”

Tatiana also appreciated getting experience at two different facilities during the program—one in Richmond and another in Berkeley.

“They were definitely two different experiences,” she says, “in a kinda cool way. The teams were different. The way they worked, and how they did certain things. I got the best of both worlds.”

When the program ended, Tatiana was still just 17—too young to get certified as a CNA.  So, she worked part time and finished high school. When she turned 18 a month later, she was hired as a CNA by one of the facilities she had done her clinicals at.

“Since taking the CNA program,” she says, “I’ve moved way, way up the ladder.”

“I am now a staffing coordinator for CNAs and licensed nurses,” she explains. “Basically, I handle CNA and licensed nurses’ schedules. I staff about a hundred to one hundred and fifty employees.”

Tatiana even returns to CCC most semesters to talk to students in the CNA program.

She plans to eventually get her doctorate in nursing.