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Inaugural Class of Community Health Workers Graduates from Kettering College

December 7, 2023 – The inaugural class in the Community Health Worker (CHW) Training Certificate program completed their training and are now ready to serve their communities. They walked across the Kettering College auditorium stage to receive the certificates they’ve worked so hard to obtain over the last four months.

Dr. Paula Reams, Nursing chair and director of the CHW program, notes how important graduation day is. She says, “To have our first graduating class of the CHW program, which is sponsored by the Health Resources and Administration grant, is such an important milestone. We’re so excited to be able to offer certified CHWs because not all CHWs in the field are certified. This is such a blessing for the people who need this help to navigate the healthcare system, which is so hard to do. Today is monumental.”

“In order to get anything done, sometimes you have to jumpstart where you are, and the rest will fall into place.”

-Fred Conner, CHW Graduate

The student address at the ceremony was given by CHW student Fred Conner. He reflected upon how now that the four-month program is completed, he’s realized, “In order to get anything done, sometimes you have to jumpstart where you are, and the rest will fall into place.”

He said he and his classmates felt this to be true in their classes together with their approach to take in all the information—one step at a time. His student address praised his peers for showing up each week to gain knowledge with the desire to serve others at the core of their determination. His classmates became a family—They prayed together, joked together, and encouraged each other each step of the way. He said, “We even broke bread once a week together to gain that spiritual component.”

Johnjé Jasper is the program coordinator, and she also attended CHW classes herself before building and organizing the program at Kettering College. She explained no one truly knew what to expect from this inaugural class. They met three days a week for three hours in addition to attending weekly practicums to gain hands-on experience.

Some students had full-time day jobs, and others had families they continued to care for. She said, “While most families were sitting down to dinner, these students were coming to class…Every student has a different story as to how they got here, but they all said they wanted to help their community…They learned a lot quickly, and each student brought their authentic self to the experience.”

At the ceremony, Johnjé explained some of the topics the class covered, so families and friends in the audience could understand the scope of the curriculum. They held a skills day, where they learned CPR; how to stop a bleed; how to take vital signs; and the importance of mental health. Guest speakers presented to the class to discuss the relevance of communicating effectively and meeting clients where they are.

The class learned how to care for anyone of any age in any circumstance, remembering the most important aspect of caring for the client as a unique individual, and developing trust and rapport. The cohort learned about resources in Montgomery County that they’ll pass along to their clients as they enter the job force. They also learned ways to use these resources to be the best advocates possible for clients to help them become advocates for themselves, their families, and their communities.

The evening’s keynote speaker was Maurice Lee, a social worker who worked alongside the class during their practicums. He encouraged the class to keep moving forward and not to allow obstacles to stop them from serving others. He asked Johnjé to stand up to be recognized. He said, “The amount of time that went into building and creating this class and the curriculum and speakers is because of you. You all are here today because of Johnjé and her dedication to making this happen.”

Congratulations to Dr. Reams, Johnjé Jasper, and the entire inaugural graduating class of the Community Health Worker Training Certificate program at Kettering College. History has been made, and we look forward to seeing the graduates begin their work on the front lines of their communities.


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