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From left, Riley Rodriguez, Carrie Lemke and Alanis Bishop.[/caption]

Three Newton Presbyterian Manor employees will pursue additional education this fall thanks to awards from the employee education assistance program.

Alanis Bishop, CMA; Carrie Lemke, RN; and Riley Rodriguez, activities assistant, each will receive reimbursement for a portion of their school expenses. We asked each about her plans.

Alanis Bishop originally considering going into social work. But then she took a closer look at nursing and decided that appealed to her more. Alanis earned her CNA and came to work at Presbyterian Manor in January 2016. Now, she is starting classes at Hutchinson Community College for her LPN certification.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Alanis said. “Having my LPN will make me be able to go further.”

Alanis said once she completes the LPN program, she would like to take a year away from school and then return for her RN.

In his letter of recommendation for the scholarship, Executive Director Marc Kessinger wrote: “Alanis is an energetic team member and shows great compassion towards her residents, who respond well to her kind manner.”

After Carrie Lemke earned her bachelor of science in nursing, or BSN, she knew there were two paths for her to advance: go into administration or get her master’s degree and become a nurse practitioner. “I wanted to stay in direct care with patients,” Carrie said, so in January she started an online program through Maryville University to become a Family Nurse Practitioner.

Thanks to the education assistance funds, Carrie said she won’t have to take breaks between terms to save up for the next tuition payment. That kind of continuity helps her learn the material faster and better, she said. The program usually takes two to three years to complete.

Carrie came to Presbyterian Manor about a year and a half ago. She is the Utz House charge nurse. Like many nurses in long-term care, Carrie originally thought she would go to work in a hospital setting. But once she tried it, she realized how much she enjoyed getting to know residents for longer than a few days. “Carrie has been one of our most consistent and reliable nurses,” Marc Kessinger said.

“We count on her because she has proven to be adept at caring for residents and managing staff. She leads by example, managing and coordinating her staff as well as working the floor beside them as necessary.”

Riley Rodriguez’s connections to Newton Presbyterian Manor run deep. She attended our Apple-A-Day Preschool, and then her daughter became a second-generation preschooler last year. About four years ago, Riley came to work for us in the kitchen as a dishwasher. She enjoyed spending time with the residents so much that she decided to become first a CNA, then an activities assistant.

“At first I didn’t have any intentions of that, but I thought, I really enjoyed working with the residents. I loved helping to take care of them, but at the same time I liked to do fun stuff with them,” Riley said. “I like to take them out and see them smile. Sometimes they’re a totally different person when we go somewhere. It’s a good change.

Riley is taking online courses for the required certification to become an Activity Director. She now works in Claassen House in our health care neighborhood.

In his recommendation, Marc Kessinger wrote: “Riley has proven herself over and over again as a quick learner and as a fun and inspiring team member. Her care for the residents shows through in all of her work.”

She hopes the coursework will also her new ideas for activities. She’s grateful for the scholarship, and she encourages other employees to take advantage of the benefit. “It is a blessing. Without it I wouldn’t be able to go to school,” she said. “A lot of people sell themselves short and think others will get (the award) instead. I thought, if I don’t get it this time I will try again.”

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