A lifelong practice of martial arts has taught Kamini Parekh-Lemme many things. The largest among them: Perseverance.
The 47-year-old woman is a third-degree black belt. The determination she developed through her practice of Isshinryu karate gave her the skills to get through life’s challenges and remain focused on her goals.
“I’ve been through a lot of things, but I do not consider any of these barriers. Yes, some days were harder than others, but my martial arts training has taught me perseverance among many other things,” she said.
A small gesture with large meaning
As a child growing up India, Kamini dreamed of a career in medicine. Her life took her in other directions initially, but in May 2020, she achieved a large milestone in her goal: she graduated from Lorain County Community College’s nursing program.
What’s more, Kamni was named the recipient of the LCCC Florence Nightingale Student Nurse Award for Nursing Excellence. The award was announced during LCCC’s virtual nurse pinning ceremony organized by the faculty of the nursing program. The Nightingale Award recognizes student nurses who give back to the profession, exemplifying the characteristics of Florence Nightingale. The pinning ceremony for nurses is a small gesture that carries a large meaning for graduates. The small pin added to the nursing uniform signifies the completion of a student’s studies and their entrance into the field of nursing.
Kamini said she was “honored, grateful and truly humbled” to receive the Nightingale award. And while she wished her husband, Don Lemme, could have seen her receive her nursing pin in person, she said the moment was still special.
Following life's path
Kamini is one of 91 nurses who graduated from LCCC’s associate degree in nursing program. Students will go on to take the state exam to become Registered Nurses. Once she officially passes the exam, Kamini will begin work as an RN in the heart and lung transplant floor at Cleveland Clinic’s main campus. She currently works on the transplant floor as a clinical technician and is excited for the promotion.
“This is a dream I pursued 25 years after graduating high school,” she said of earning her RN.
As a teenager, Kamini graduated high school in India and took an exam for entrance to medical school. Unfortunately, she missed the required score by just a fraction of a point. Instead, she settled on earning a degree in architecture, a program that pleased her parents but never felt quite right to Kamini.
“My second choice after becoming a doctor was to study engineering but that would have required me live at the university, and my parents didn’t want me to live on campus,” she recalled.
So, Kamini applied herself to her studies and earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Goa College of Architecture, in Goa, India. After her graduation, she continued to follow down her life’s path. She got married and had two daughters, Tosha and Disha.
In 1999, she and her family moved to Ohio, to be closer to family members. Life kept moving forward, and she always kept the dream of working in medicine at the back of her mind.
Everything changed about four years ago, when Kamini found the courage to leave an abusive marriage and start a new life for her and her daughters. It was then that her dream of a medical career began to take shape and turn into reality. She researched local colleges and found Lorain County Community College’s nursing program to be her most affordable option.
The persistence to pull through
She enrolled at LCCC in 2017, first taking several pre-requisite courses before gaining admission into LCCC’s associate degree in nursing program. For more than three years, she juggled school, work and family life, and so much more. While Kamini was earning her nursing degree, both of daughters, Tosha and Disha, enrolled in area community colleges. Tosha, now 22 earned an associate degree in electrical engineering and Disha, now 19, was enrolled in College Credit Plus courses while in high school.
“I had to deal with immigration issues, a divorce, three moves, working full-time with myself and both of my daughters all in college at one point, and I got married last June,” she said.
It has been a long road, but it was worth it. As Kamini takes a step back to look at her life, she said she’s pleased with where she is and how far she’s come. Along the way, she felt support from LCCC’s faculty, especially nursing professors Mary Grady, Cheryl Shultz, and Nanci Berman; and also microbiology professor Harry Kestler.
And nothing compares to the support she feels from her family: Tosha, Disha, husband Don, and son Kyle; her parents and extended family in both India and the United States; as well as her martial arts family.
“And I thank God for giving me strength, wisdom and the persistence to pull through,” she said.