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Pickens Technical College creates opportunities for all students to learn a trade and start a career in the industry of their choice. Some students come from different corners of the world to get the training they need to improve their lives in a meaningful way with meaningful work. If you ask around any program or department at PTC, you’ll find plenty of stories from students who journeyed around the world to be here.

Practical Nursing Program Director Shannon M. Fries works with students from all over the world. She recently heard the story of a young man who jumped through an international obstacle course to land in a PTC classroom.

The nursing student is from Cameroon, a country in Central Africa. He entered a lottery to get a visa to live and work in the United States in 2011. Fries says “when he got here he landed in JFK airport to find that the person who was supposed to pick him up was not there. He did not have any family or close friends in this country so he called back to Cameroon and was able to arrange a place to stay in Virginia.” After a long bus ride, he found his living quarters and stayed there for a month. He had to borrow money to move to Colorado where a total stranger helped him get set up and established. Once there, the nursing student worked hard to obtain citizenship in the US and earn a nurse’s aide certificate.

Fries says that the student’s dream has always been to become a nurse: “His mother is a nurse in Cameroon and also operates a pharmacy so he would like to follow in her footsteps.” The dream is now within his reach in the Practical Nursing Program at PTC.

Fries are blown away by the effort of her instructors in the Nursing Program and the students’ ability to band together and help each other succeed. She says that what is perhaps most impressive about these students is “how caring [they] are toward their patients and their classmates. They work toward the goal of becoming a nurse with a singular focus and dedication that is admirable.”

PTC Practical Nursing instructors adapt their teaching styles to help their students, especially those who come from overseas. Fries says that they employ “a variety of teaching techniques and materials such as: written, verbal, video, hands-on practice, demonstration, flipped classroom techniques, even things as simple as changing the configuration of the desks and the seating assignments to offer new perspectives and ideas…” She is always struck by the efforts of her instructors, too, who often stay late answering questions and offer practice time for many challenging techniques outside of classroom hours.

Instructors also encourage their students in the Practical Nursing program to speak to each other in their native languages to get and receive help understanding the lesson material. International students often form study groups and support each other in their learning. Fries says that “it is very rewarding to see them learning from each other as much if not more than they learn from us.”

No matter where you come from or how difficult it was to get into a PTC Practical Nursing classroom, you’ll have the support of your fellow students and the instructors, who will adapt to your needs so you get the training to pursue a career in nursing.