Mother and daughter move forward together with continuing education program

By Daphne J. Thomas

Southwest EKG Instructor Amy Frye congratulates Destiny York.

Donna York

Education transforms lives and for mother-daughter duo Donna York and Destiny York, they say they can feel the difference after completing the College’s EKG Technician Program.  “I just feel good about myself tonight,” Mom Donna said.  “I feel like I have accomplished something.”  Her daughter, Destiny, who graduated from Soulsville Charter School in 2015, agrees.  “[My mom] told me about [the Women Healing Memphis] program so I decided to come back to Southwest to try this and it feels great to finish and look forward to getting a good job.”

The Yorks, along with 13 other women, completed the Women Healing Memphis (WHM) program earlier this month that is funded in partnership with Southwest Tennessee Community College Foundation and the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis.  WHM is a continuing education program that provides women 18 years and older living in the 38126 zip code education and training to empower them to compete for employment opportunities in allied health.  The U.S. Census identified the 38126 zip code as one of the most economically challenged urban areas in the nation with 60 percent of residents living below the poverty line.

Southwest President Dr. Tracy D. Hall congratulated the graduates and thanked their proud family and friends.  I commend you on your outstanding achievement,” Dr. Hall said.  “And I applaud the family and friends who provide the critical support system that enabled these courageous women to persist to this life changing goal.”

Southwest EKG Instructor Amy Frye congratulates Destiny York.

Southwest EKG Instructor Amy Frye congratulates Destiny York.

WHM students receive child care assistance while they complete their studies in the Dialysis Technician and EKG Technician programs, both of which are 50-hour training programs that prepare them to sit for the national certification exam. The program not only pays the course fees, but also provides funds for books, materials and examination fees.  The dialysis students learned how to operate kidney dialysis machines, prepare dialyzer reprocessing and delivery systems and how to maintain and repair the equipment.  The Yorks and their fellow EKG students received training in serving as technicians who assist physicians during the diagnosis and treatment of cardiac and blood vessel irregularities.

Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis program coordinator Patria Johnson says the foundation is a proud sponsor.  “This is a worthwhile program that will make a difference in the lives of these women and the city,” she said. “I encourage them to go on, go on, go on.”

Urban Strategies Memphis Hope, a nonprofit that seeks to empower low- and moderate-income families from discrete disinvested neighborhoods to live socioeconomically sufficient lives within a thriving mixed-income community, recruited the students.   “You are on the right path,” Urban Strategies representative Lori Davis said.  “We are proud of you. Nike says ‘Just do it,’ well, you did it.”

The Yorks plan to sit for the national certification exam in June and look forward to joining the workforce as skilled EKG technicians. Southwest Director of Externally Funded Programs Dr. Derek Henson says the journey does not end with the exam.  “We will partner with Urban Strategies to ensure they go on to the next phase and get a job,” he said.  “We are here for them. This is just the beginning.”

Destiny looks forward to working in a small clinic. She says the Southwest faculty were inspiring and supportive throughout the course.  “We had great teachers who were very hands on.”

Donna has worked at FedEx as a material handler for the past 24 years and now looks forward to working in a hospital setting. She says WHM is a worthwhile program.  “I want to see more programs like this because they make a difference in people’s lives,” she said. “It’s great to see someone cares about us and sees us as worthy of investing in.”

Women Healing Memphis graduates (top row) with WHM partner agency representatives (left to right) Director of Externally Funded Programs Dr. Derek Henson (Southwest), Lori Davis (Urban Strategies), President Tracy D. Hall, Patria Johnson (Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis), Vice President for Continuing Education and Corporate Training Anita Brackin (Southwest), Program Manager Corporate Training/ Continuing Education Kathy Simpson (Southwest), and EKG Instructor Amy Frye (Southwest)

Women Healing Memphis graduates (top row) with WHM partner agency representatives (left to right) Director of Externally Funded Programs Dr. Derek Henson (Southwest), Lori Davis (Urban Strategies), President Tracy D. Hall, Patria Johnson (Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis), Vice President for Continuing Education and Corporate Training Anita Brackin (Southwest), Program Manager Corporate Training/ Continuing Education Kathy Simpson (Southwest), and EKG Instructor Amy Frye (Southwest).