Woman holding a certificate against a brick wall

Local partnerships were key to Jessica Geary’s success. 

Jessica began working with West Michigan Works! career coach Julie Sooy in the Allegan Service Center in August 2022. Jessica had many years of experience caring for people, but she did not have a Certified Nursing Assistant credential nor high school diploma, so her previous work did not pay well and she had no potential for advancement. 

“Jessica applied for dozens and dozens of jobs and couldn’t get one,” Julie said. “When I first started working with her in August, she was pretty serious and a bit down.” This changed when Jessica began working with Julie and Allegan Public schools’ adult education program. 

She enrolled in courses and prepared for her GED tests from August 2022 until February 2023, working faithfully in each of her classes. By this point, Jessica had a goal in mind. “I wanted to obtain my CNA license, get my GED and work for a really great company,” she said.  

Jessica’s strong will and determination quickly became clear through her career exploration activities with Julie. As Jessica was finishing her GED, she began working towards a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) certification through Lake Michigan College. West Michigan Works! was able to support her with the essentials she couldn’t get herself such as transportation, and scrubs and shoes required for the training. 

“Once she started getting successes under her belt, like getting her GED, she became someone who smiled more, joked more and looked overall happier,” Julie said. 

After months of CNA classes, while also working to update her resume and practicing interview skills, Jessica earned her CNA in March 2023. Her persistence didn’t only pay off there- a CNA trainer noticed Jessica’s work ethic and offered her a full-time position at Kauhale Otsego, an assisted living and memory care community. 

In a brief eight months, Jessica had earned two education credentials and landed herself a fulfilling, supportive job.  

“West Michigan Works helped me by removing all of the barriers that were standing in my way,” Jessica said. “I knew I needed to do something with my life and West Michigan Works! helped me find my way.”