Friendship Keeps Lakeshia and Shakeera motivated to excel in AccessCNY’s DSP certification program

Lakeshia Herbert Adams and Shakeera Hayward have been working side-by-side in Residential Services for eight years, so it was natural for them to consider applying for the Direct Support Professionals certification program at Onondaga Community College together.

When Lakeshia was accepted into the program, she had just been promoted to Senior Program Manager, and was excited to gain the extra experience offered in the courses. 

“You do these things every day without ever thinking that there’s an actual definition for it or method behind it,” she said. “It’s so interesting to get a different perspective.”

Lakeshia only has three more courses to complete until finishing the program, and is excited to use her learned skills to be a better manager.

AccessCNY was her first, and only, experience working as a direct care worker. After taking time off to pursue other career options, she realized that she was too passionate about the work to give it up.

“I felt like I needed to be here,” she said.

When she returned to AccessCNY, she was welcomed back by participants and staff she now considers her family, like Shakeera.

Not only is Shakeera completing the DSP certificate program, she is majoring in nursing and expecting to graduate sometime next year. She feels that her experience as a DSP, and now as an Assistant Program Manager, have helped her prepare for her future career as a nurse.

“I’m already doing so many things that I would be doing as a nurse,” she said. “My job has helped me prepare with activities like daily note-taking and medication management.”

Shakeera feels hopeful that she can use her degree in nursing to continue to help people in our community.

“I feel supported by the staff at AccessCNY,” she said. “Even though I might have different goals in the future they are motivating me to have the career I want.”

While she had worked as a DSP at other agencies, she chose to stay at AccessCNY for the personal relationships she was able to develop with the residents she supports. While she is extremely busy managing all of her studies with work and being a mom to her one-year-old daughter, it has taught her how to balance all of her responsibilities.

AccessCNY’s Direct Support Professionals credentialing program with Onondaga Community College helps support staff to further their career with the agency and is funded through a grant from State Senator John Mannion.

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