From “Dependent” to Doctor

How Child Care Assistance helped on participant apply for medical school

Thanks to the support she received from CITC Child Care Assistance, Hannah Henderson earned her B.S. in biology last December. Next up for this registered nurse? Medical school.

Hannah Henderson was lined up for success: She had a drive that had taken her through high school in the tiny community of Metlakatla, and she had graduated as valedictorian of her class. She knew she wanted to pursue nursing. She had a good job at the Alaska Native Medical Center. She’d received a Bill Gates scholarship for school. And a friend had even paid for her first semester of college as a surprise. Just one obstacle stood in Hannah’s way: good, dependable child care.

Fortunately, CITC is in the business of knocking down obstacles.

“Hannah was eligible for other kinds of assistance, but she was very clear with us,” recalled Brittany Suralta, a CITC Senior Manager for the Employment Training and Services Department (ETSD) who worked with Hannah early on. “She was only using the Child Care Assistance program while she was in school because she didn’t want to have to use our services in the future.

“We hear that a lot,” Brittany added, “especially from people who are going to school, who want to do better for their family. They don’t want to have to rely on CITC later on, so they do it now to get to a place where they can support themselves.”

In Hannah’s case, her family was watching her children — two sets of twins — when she first went back to school to pursue her nursing degree. But the situation wasn’t ideal; as soon as she got home each evening, she took over childcare duties. That meant studying got put off until after the kids were fed and put to bed. Hannah’s GPA began to slip — an unacceptable outcome for someone whose goal was to go to medical school and eventually become a doctor.

“Brittany was like, ‘Let’s get your kids more time with somebody who can watch them so you can focus on school,’” Hannah remembered of one of her first meetings at CITC.

“We hear that a lot from participants — they don’t want to have to rely on CITC later on, so they do it now to get to a place where they can support themselves.”
– Brittany Suralta, CITC Senior Manager

Brittany set Hannah up for Child Care Assistance, a sliding-scale program that helps Alaska Native and American Indian families afford quality daycare, as long as the parents are working or going to school.

For Hannah, Child Care Assistance allowed her to bring up her GPA and earn her nursing degree with honors. “Without CITC, child care was expensive. I was worried I’d have to go back to the village and have my parents watch my kids while I worked in one of the small clinics. I wanted more than that, but I didn’t see how I could make it work. Without Child Care Assistance, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

Where is she? On her way to becoming a doctor. After graduating school in December 2017 with a bachelor’s in biology, Hannah is in the middle of the application process to attend medical school — and the undertaking has her reflecting on how she got here.

“The questions on the application are pretty generic: ‘Who are the most influential people in your life?’ I talked about LoAnne (Mark, a CITC Child Care Eligibility Technician) and Brittany,” Hannah said. “They were on my bandwagon. I stayed on Child Care Assistance the whole time I was in school, and they supported me.

“I feel dependent on the program now,” Hannah went on, “but it’s enabling me to be more independent. That’s a comforting feeling. I can sleep at night without worries.”

Are you facing obstacles that are keeping you from reaching your career goals? Find out how CITC can help. Visit our Employment Training and Services webpage, or call (907) 793-3300 to learn more.