CTK Graduate Helps Patients and their Families during Pandemic

In December of 2019, Jada Buckley, CTK '17 decided to take on a part-time job working 3 days a week as a Senior Tech at Akron General Hospital. As a nursing major at the University of Akron, this experience would provide her with exposure to what nurses do in the different departments of a hospital. A few months later, the first COVID patients began arriving for treatment. She quickly realized that during a pandemic, everyone needs you, no matter what your title is.” Jada witnessed first-hand COVID’s impact on patients and their families and took on increased responsibilities to support them and her co-workers.  During the first wave, they were often short-staffed and lacked sufficient PPE supplies. Working expanded hours while continuing her studies remotely, not surprisingly took a toll on Jada, physically and mentally.

Jada finally had a chance to take a break and come home to Chicago for two weeks in June. She is a first-generation college student and happy with her decision to attend Akron, a school she chose for its diverse student population, great nursing program, and being the right distance from home. She recognized however that she was by herself in Ohio, and needed to be with her family “to feel some level of normalcy and connection.”  The time spent feeling “loved and comforted” by her family, helped return Jada to the right frame of mind.  Her mother also provided advice on dealing with stress through music and exercise.

Upon returning to Akron, Jada felt better prepared for handling her work and school responsibilities, with some important changes. The hospital was better prepared for the second COVID surge with adequate staffing and supplies on hand. Her experiences during the pandemic also influenced her to switch her major from nursing to social work. She saw the critical role played by social workers in supporting patients and their families, helping them to get the personal, medical, and financial resources needed for their recovery.  Although it will push her graduation timing back to 2022, she has greatly enjoyed her social work classes so far, and is excited about exploring the different social work career opportunities, while not closing the door on eventually returning to nursing.

Jada credits her CTK experience with helping her to become a well-managed, independent person. Teachers like Mr. Laughlin, Mr. Zundel, and Ms. Cattledge made sure she stayed on top of her schoolwork without being overbearing. She applies her favorite Grad at Grad – Being Open to Growth – to her life every day, by being open to new experiences and the views of other people.  Her mind was opened during her Corporate Work Study experience for 3 years at Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen. “I loved it there. They treated me like family. I also developed strong customer service skills, which I’ve used and people have commented on in every job since.”

Her advice for CTK students (and her two younger siblings): “Stay on top of your schoolwork and pay attention to the lessons learned at school and work. Always strive to be the best you can be. It can change so much of your life for the better.”