Some people write poetry. Others keep diaries. And then there are those who express themselves… through their tattoos. Cherica, a Caroline Center CNA trainee falls into the latter category. She wears her heart on her sleeve and her history on her arm. Make that arms. Neck. Back. Don’t look away. Every tattoo tells a story.
On the first day of each new session, before class begins, the latest Caroline Center trainees gather together for orientation. After a few announcements, the staff turns the floor over to the women for what has become a familiar ritual. As they go around the room, each woman is asked to introduce herself and share with the others what it felt like to receive her letter of acceptance into the program. Without fail, what begins as a routine exercise in icebreaking eventually takes on aspects of the sacramental.
To endure is greater than to dare; to tire out hostile fortune; to be daunted by no difficulty; to keep heart when all have lost it…who is to say that is not greatness? William Makepeace Thackery
For the 53rd class of Caroline Center nursing assistant trainees, the nearly 4-month long program flew by. And now here they were – in the same room where just 15 weeks earlier they had quietly introduced themselves to each other and nervously waited for orientation to begin – about to debrief their instructors on the week of clinicals they had just completed at various healthcare centers around town. Back in September, their blue scrubs were stiff and starchy with newness. Now, they were well worn and broken in, the uniform of true professionals. The course had flown by, which is not to say it was easy. For months the women grappled with anatomy and physiology, struggled with medical terminology, and mastered state of the art patient care. And then they were sent into the field to practice on site what they’d learned in the lab. For a week they worked alongside other healthcare professionals at places like St. Elizabeth’s, Bayview, and Maria Health Care. They had learned a great deal and were eager to report on the experience.
The room is unusually quiet. In another month, when things have settled into a routine, it will be noisy with the boisterous exchanges of these very same women who make up the latest class at the Caroline Center. But today, the first day of the new session, the women of Class Number 53 are nervous.