Rashanaee Pratt had just started college when her grandmother, Christine, became gravely ill. As she recovered, she was admitted to a nursing home for rehabilitation.
“She almost passed away,” says Pratt, who graduated from Lorain High School in 2017. “That was the scariest thing in my life. My mother had me young, so my grandmother took on the mother responsibilities, and she’s the closest person in my life.”
Pratt often visited her grandmother at the nursing home and was unimpressed with the conditions and care. For her grandmother, she wanted better. And she wanted better for herself, as well.
“I was at a crossroads and didn’t have any direction,” says Pratt, who was in her first year at Lorain County Community College at the time. “It took a near-tragedy to inspire me to go into nursing.”
With the help of LCCC and its Students Accelerating in Learning (SAIL) program, Pratt, 20, has pursued that calling of becoming a nurse with gusto.
“The SAIL program helped me when I needed it most,” says Pratt of the program that provides tuition assistance and advising services to qualifying students from low-income households.
Driven to succeed
As a student at LCCC, Pratt was challenged with getting to campus. She had no car, no license — although she is working toward earning one — and no easy access to public transportation from her home in Lorain. But she was determined.
“She has a lot of initiative and she is a very humble, dedicated person who is focused on having a career, making a change in her life and doing everything she can for her family,” says her adviser, Cynthia Arredondo. “That’s a real driver for her.”
And sometimes Arredondo was her literal driver, picking her up to take her to advisory meetings on campus or dropping off books at her home when Pratt was unable to get to the college. She says she did so because, in Pratt, she saw a genuine appreciation for everything LCCC had to offer her.
“A lot of students begin taking classes at LCCC, but for one reason or another, don’t finish,” says Arredondo. “But she’s been amazed at what this school can give her. She’s appreciated it and taken advantage of it, and I feel proud of how she’s pushed forward. She’s going to achieve her goals.”
Pratt says Arredondo has been instrumental in her success.
“I always felt like Cynthia was more than just a professional adviser,” she says. “And I appreciate her taking me home and to meetings. She still texts me to check on me.”
Thanks in part to college credits she earned as a high school student through LCCC’s College Credit Plus program, Pratt has already achieved her first goal, graduating with her associate of arts degree in December 2018. Now, she’s fully immersed in LCCC’s nursing program, on track to begin her nursing clinicals in spring 2020 and to graduate in December 2021.
“LCCC has been the most rewarding experience of my educational career,” she says. “The class sizes make it easy for me to have one-on-one time with the teachers, so I get the most out of the classes and learn something new every day.”
She says every day feels like one step closer to success.
“It feels exciting, like I’m preparing myself more each semester,” she says. “To be this close to my goals feels really good.”
And she is certain she will succeed. Although faced with challenging economic realities, Pratt is an example of how, with support from family and LCCC staff and faculty, a student can push past those barriers and succeed.
“I don’t let anything stop me,” she says.
As she nears her goal of becoming a nurse, Pratt has not yet settled on a specific niche within the profession. Before choosing her path, she wants to first experience clinicals. But she is confident that whatever she chooses, she will provide excellent care — and do so with a smile — to others in the situation her grandmother was in.
“Once I’m around health care locations and get a taste of things, I’ll be able to figure out what fits me best,” she says. “But whatever I decide, I will be the best professional I can be and provide the best health services I can for a patient, thanks to the education I received at LCCC.”