As a teenager, Jody Page walked the two miles from her house in Elyria to the Sheffield Village McDonald’s where she worked. And every time she did, she passed Lorain County Community College’s main campus. For years, the campus was a landmark on her way to work. But one day Page wondered if LCCC could be more than that to her.
“I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew I wanted to go to college and do something with my life,” Page said. “So, I walked into the Bass Library.”
Page, who was 21 at the time, knew her educational journey would be long. She was home schooled through 12th grade, but learned her coursework wasn’t accredited by the State of Ohio. To earn a college degree, and be eligible for financial aid, Page needed to start with her GED.
“As a young adult who didn’t even have a high school diploma yet, I was scared,” she said. “I didn’t know if I was going to be successful or smart enough to pass the classes.”
Page might not have known if she was going to be successful in LCCC’s Aspire program, which provides free classes to students pursuing their GED, but the LCCC team welcomed Page and showed her that she could overcome any hurdle that might stand in her way.
“They have wonderful instructors running the Aspire program,” Page said. “Everyone was so friendly and kind.”
After her shifts at work, Page walked to campus to study and in 2017 Page passed her GED exam. It was a high school diploma equivalent, but she felt like she began college that day.
“Earning your GED can give you either a positive or a negative experience, especially as an adult,” Page said. “For me, it was a positive one that set the tone for the rest of my academic career here.”
Finding her forever
Page spent the next two years earning her associate of arts degree and immersing herself in campus life. She got involved in the theater program, started writing for the student newspaper, and twice made the Dean’s List. She also ventured outside her degree program and became a State Tested Nurse Aide. With that certification, Page began working at local care facilities through a nursing agency. The job introduced her to patient care and got her thinking about her career after graduation.
“I had to make some decisions, because I knew I didn’t want to be finished,” Page said.
In fall 2021, Page began LCCC’s One-Year Licensed Practical Nurse program. She knew immediately she was in the right educational setting.
“I love the way that we were taught,” Page said. “The instructors have a straightforward approach. It’s all about what’s going to make your patient the most comfortable.”
Page said her patient-focused instruction and clinical time logged at hospitals within the community made her a better aide, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Page spent months working in a temporary COVID unit in Avon Lake Towne Center. It was difficult and scary, but the experience solidified Page’s future.
“I knew that year that this is what I’m going to do forever,” Page said.
Accepting help along the way
Page worked hard in the labs and classrooms, and in the facilities caring for her patients. But there were times she needed help and care, too. Twice Page found herself supporting her mother through illness, struggling to make ends meet on her part-time salary.
For support, Page turned to LCCC’s Advocacy and Resource Center, which helps students access resources like food, laptops, financial assistance, transportation and childcare. The ARC provided Page emergency aid to pay her bills, so she didn’t have to lessen her course load in order to increase her shifts at work.
“It’s programs like that that help to even the playing field,” Page said. “At LCCC, it’s all about what they can do to help students succeed.”
Stopping to look back
In summer 2022, at age 28, Page graduated from the LPN program and was offered a position at a senior living center in North Ridgeville that cares for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss.
“I want to be the kind of nurse that not only does the medical and care and documenting stuff correctly, but I want to really be there for my patients on a personal level,” she said.
At the practical nurse graduation pinning ceremony, Page spoke to her fellow graduates and shared a message of gratitude.
“Sometimes you don’t realize – until you stop and look back – everything you’ve accomplished,” Page said. “LCCC will always feel like a home; a place where you can find your purpose, reinvent yourself, make friends and change your life.”