Brighton Center

Ethel Lane

In 2005, I was attending college to get my law degree. I had big dreams for my education until one day my world changed. On my way to school I was thrown through my windshield by a drunk driver. The driver crossed four lanes of traffic and hit me head on. Instead of making it to class that day, I was rushed to the hospital with severe brain trauma.

The long road to recovery put my dreams of finishing school on hold. I was discharged after two weeks in the hospital, but it was a rough transition. I had trouble moving one side of my body which made it difficult to get around the house. I attended therapy to learn basic functions again, but one thing that suffered the most was my memory. Going back to school was constantly weighing on my mind; I just didn’t know if I could do it.

After the accident, I was put on disability but I held part-time jobs to get out of the house. I enjoyed them, but I never fell in love. So many doctors told me I would be unable to work, that I would be on disability for life. I just knew in the back of my mind, “I am more than this.”

Then, there was glimpse of hope. An after school program my son attended invited me to a Brighton Center presentation. The speaker introduced a program where individuals can get an education debt free and it caught my attention. I knew right away I wanted to do it. This would be my opportunity to discover what I was capable of, challenge my brain, and show the doctors and myself that I was still capable of working.

My boyfriend and I both decided we were going to attend Center for Employment Training (CET) that night and we started the Medical Assisting program November of 2016. Going back to school was difficult because of my brain injuries. I had trouble learning and retaining new information but I studied every spare minute I had. I took notes from the Medical Assisting textbook front to back, five times over. All I knew is that I wanted this. I didn’t want this just for me; I wanted to show my three kids that my disability is not a cop out. You just have to work that much harder. I thought about quitting a few times and taking the easy route, but I never did. When I would let my mind get ahead of me, my instructor Lee Ann would look at me and tell me to take a deep breath and slow down. “You got this.” Those moments made me think that if Lee Ann had the faith in me, then I knew I could do it.

I attended CET’s Medical Assisting program for a year. I did extremely well.  Even with two surgeries that set me back, I graduated a month after my boyfriend and we both landed externships. He got one at St. Elizabeth Heart and Vascular and mine was at St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Florence. The instructors at CET made a remarkable impact on my life. Whenever I was at my externship, I would hear Lee Ann in the back of my mind telling me “Take a deep breath, you can do this.” And I would, every time.

With Brighton Center’s CET program, I was able to show everyone that I was able to get through a program, retain information, and work in the medical field. I can proudly say that I passed school with a Medical Assisting certificate. The program touched our lives so much that we convinced my boyfriend’s mom to join as well and she started November of 2017.

Brighton Center doesn’t just offer a free education, they also help you through the process. I have three kids, so I was able to make their Christmas amazing with the Holiday Drive. They provided me a holiday meal and a chance to go shopping for my children. When I was off school for surgery and we had a major flood in the basement, Brighton Center was kind enough to help us with Emergency Assistance so we could save money for the repairs that we needed in our home. Life happens, you can’t stop life. I would rather let life happen with Brighton Center on my side.

I remember one specific day when I was outside with one of my instructors on break. I told her that nursing made me nervous because I don’t want to hurt anybody. And she said to me, “That’s what is going to make you a good Medical Assistant. You have sympathy and empathy and you don’t want to hurt anybody. So you are going to think about things before you do them and you will not be in a rush. If that’s what’s really holding you back, don’t let it, because that’s going to make you shine.” And that’s what keeps me going.

January 5, 2018 was the last day of my externship. I have options now. I am going back to school in August for nursing and I want to double major in social work. My boyfriend got hired on at St. Elizabeth Heart and Vascular after his externship and he loves it there. I learned to not let myself get in my way. And that’s the truth. Sometimes, we get in our own way and don’t let ourselves shine like we should. You just have to get through the struggle, and at CET you don’t have to go through it alone. 

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