Shanti always knew she wanted to be a CNA when she grew up. As a child she often went to work with her mother, who was a CNA, to play and lend a hand. From that early age she knew this would be her career as well.

After high school Shanti stepped into health care holding multiple positions: a Resident aide at Railside Living Center, a Medication Technician at Care Cardinal and then as a Phlebotomist at Spectrum Health.

Dissatisfied with her income and hungry to achieve her goals, Shanti looked for CNA training opportunities but could not afford the programs she found until she learned about scholarships through Goodwill Industries of Grand Rapids.

woman smiling at the camera
Shanti Burrell

Determined to find a solution, Shanti attended a CNA workshop hosted by Goodwill. Here she met Danielle Garcia, a West Michigan Works! GoodSTART WIOA Youth Program career coach who helps young people achieve their career goals.

Through Danielle, Shanti was deemed eligible for the GoodSTART WIOA Youth Program which would cover the cost of training as well as transportation to and from the training site. Being unemployed during this time meant funding from the WIOA Youth Program was essential to Shanti’s success.

That she would be successful was apparent from the beginning, however, since Shanti was so determined. “We worked through customer service training, and I helped her with employability skills, including learning about resumes, cover letters, interviewing, thank you cards and team-building skills,” Danielle said. “When her CNA classes started, she was always on time, positive and ready to learn.”

As Shanti worked through the 115-hour CNA training and work experience, she also worked to earn a certificate in the NRF Rise Up Foundation Customer Service and Sales and in CPR/AED. This training was also eligible for mileage reimbursement, allowing the GoodSTART WIOA Youth Program to help her get to and from training.

“I would check in to see how she was balancing life, work and training,” Danielle shared. “I provided one-on-one study time if she didn’t understand the material and talked to the CNA instructors when she was worried about exams.”

Near the end of her training Shanti experienced a devastating family tragedy. Through this hardship, she stayed focused and earned higher than 75 percent on both her skills and knowledge exams, securing her a CNA certificate.

“After training, I helped Shanti with her job search for CNA positions around where she lives,” Danielle shared. She eventually became a CNA and began working at Mission Point in Holland, helping others as a nursing assistant just like her mother.