Ana Andrade arrived in Michigan from Brazil in 2018, speaking very little English, and today is a nurse in the medical surgery cardiac unit at Detroit Medical Center. During the five years in between played out a story of perseverance and perspective.
“I’m very proud of my story. If I can do it, anyone can do it,” Andrade says. “I felt like I had a gift and I knew I needed to use it to help others. My journey has been worth it because I love taking care of people – even those you don’t know. Sometimes it’s just listening to them.”
Andrade first attended Washtenaw Community College to participate in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. After successfully completing the ESL program, she moved on to the Health Program Preparation track and then enrolled in the nursing program. She graduated with an Associate Degree in Nursing from WCC in May of 2023.
Her first year at WCC was pivotal. Immersed in a welcoming environment, the ESL program helped her navigate learning a new language and instilled confidence to continue pursuing her dreams.
Andrade connected with instructor Betsy Foss, who taught grammar and writing to ESL students. Foss reminded Andrade that her dreams are worth pursuing. “She’s so patient and dedicated and positive. I didn’t know any English at the time, and she was there for me.”
Walking across the stage to receive her hard-earned diploma marked the culmination of years of hard work and the launch of her new career. “It was one of the best days of my life. My family and friends were there, and it’s just unbelievable to have them be so proud of you.”
Andrade’s circle of influence is wide, but it’s the home front – where her husband and 9-year-old daughter are her biggest cheerleaders – that means so much. “My daughter tells me she’s going to go to WCC, too. I just tell her ‘Yes, yes you can.’”
The college’s exceptional educational programs and low tuition is a combination that can’t be beat, especially for prospective nurses. WCC was recently named a national Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing, the only community college and one of just nine nursing programs nationwide this year.
“The instructors look for a better way to deliver the content and share knowledge with students. As soon as the hospital or medical facility know you graduated from WCC, they understand you are well-prepared and have ‘hands on’ practice and experience,” Andrade says.
While tuition is the lowest in the state for in-district students, Andrade made her college education even more affordable by enrolling in many of WCC’s courses offering free online textbooks and worked part-time as a lab assistant in the nursing program.
“Most schools that offer the quality of education that WCC does are very expensive. I’m thankful for the opportunity to get a top education affordably,” she says.
This story appears in the Winter 2024 edition of Launch magazine. See complete issue.