If someone had told Jaqueline Kwete a few years ago that her life would look the way it does now, she wouldn't have believed them. As a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), she is grateful for the career path on which she's found herself, and says she has Wesley on Grand — WesleyLife's Community for Healthy Living in Des Moines — to thank.
"When I came to this country, I wanted to work at something I was passionate about, and because I had a healthcare background, my caseworker suggested we try some places like Wesley on Grand where I could provide care," Jaqueline, a refugee from the Republic of the Congo in Central Africa, says.
"I applied at some other places, too, but then Wesley on Grand agreed to interview me on the same day, and I was hired on that day! It happened so fast; it was hard to believe that yes, I had a job in that short amount of time! I started in July and it doesn't feel like work. It feels like a home."
A connection with a leader
When Jaqueline arrived at Wesley on Grand, she had only been in the United States for a few weeks. Jaymie Banks-Westfield, Director of People and Culture for Wesley on Grand, said she wasted no time in hiring Jaqueline because she saw the young woman as a smart, kind, motivated person who would demonstrate compassion to those she served.
"She has only been in our country for such a short time, and I feel like she has accomplished so much already," Jaymie says. "While she was taking the CNA course here, she was still working in assisted living, and she has a small child. There's a lot on her plate, but she's always happy and smiling. She's already a success story."
Jaqueline credits Jaymie for "pushing and motivating me to achieve my goals; she always has time for me and I feel like she sees me. She understands that I'm a mother and she helps me with schedules that can give me some flexibility. She has already had an impact on my life."
Relationships and goals
The community and its residents also are impacting Jaqueline; explaining that she always has related well to older people, she says she sees her parents in the residents she cares for and is committed to "taking care of them like family."
"The residents are such good people and I really enjoy talking with them and helping to make sure they have their needs met," Jaqueline says. "I'm grateful that caring for them is giving me these opportunities. We don't have such opportunities in Africa; we don't have money and we don't have groups that will sponsor you."
Jaqueline is hoping to take advantage of a WesleyLife scholarship to assist in paying for nursing school; after she earns her RN, her ultimate plan is to become a physician.
"I learn a lot and I actually get training every time I work," she says. "Professionally, I have all I have ever wanted here. I know if I work hard here, anything is possible; if I keep pushing myself, I can take my career as far as I want to and have a good life for myself and for my son."