Unable to travel overseas to attend her school’s graduation ceremony Debrina Howe decided to host and live stream her own commencement at The New Charing Cross Tavern in Somerset, supported by family and friends present and online.
Howe shared the story of her struggle to earn her nursing degree with TNN’s Trevor Lindsay, noting the great debt she owed to her mentor, Valerie Arorash, who encouraged and supported her through many challenges and tough times.
“I first decided to get into the healthcare field back in 2001,” explained Howe, who has a passion for helping people. “I started out at Packwood Home and then I moved on to Lefroy House.
And I wanted to pursue my nursing degree and at that particular time doors were not opening for me and my mentor Ms Valerie Arorash encouraged me to go into the community and work for the Department of health and basically she just worked with me worked with my schedule and opened doors for me and slowly but surely I obtain my associate’s degree in nursing and became a registered nurse.
It wasn’t easy, it was very hard. I spent many nights crying, calling her, thinking that I could not accomplish it, wanting to give up she stayed with me and encouraged me through everything. There was a point in time that I had failed the first set of my end class.
“I had been diagnosed with as having anxiety and I was working crazy hours going from day work tonight work, just trying to pay for my school as well as take care of my child as a single mother at the time and Ms Arorash helped me to get through.
“I was taking my first end test I didn’t realize that I was actually having an anxiety attack, when 20 minutes before the test ended the screen went black and I didn’t know what was happening and you know that was that was a sad time for me, but I overcame it and Ms Arorash continuously encouraged me.
“I really want her to know that, without her, the road would have been much harder and I thank her for not giving up on me.”
The moment at Charing Cross was a far cry from the sad days, with Howe’s mother and husband, Paul Howe, able to join in celebration of her accomplishment.
Howe offered her own encouragement to other single mothers or persons struggling to reach their career goals.
“First of all you have to be hungry,” she said. “Don’t give up and set realistic goals.
“Don’t overdo yourself. Know your limits and maintain a work/life balance.
“For me, I didn’t see the imporatance of these things in the beginning and I got the anxiety because I was overworking myself trying to attain farfetched goals.”
Howe advised that there are available resources within government at Workforce Development Department and Bermuda College.
“I actually had a scholarship through the Bermuda College and Workforce Development, which helped me out tremendously,” said Howe. “It is also good to be able to find someone willing to sow into your life and will continuously encourage you.
“But you have to be serious about what you want, whether it be not going out when you might want and not answering the phone … knowing when to shut things down and focussing on whatis in front of you.”
Howe is involved in a field very much in demand world-wide, with great opportunity for upward mobility available in the healthcare field.
Still, she said that it as not her that chose the healtchcare field.
“You don’t chose nursing, nursing chooses you,” she explained. “I’ve always wanted to be able to impart on someone else’s life and it’s a gift from God.
“You can’t care for somebody and nurture them by treating them badly.”
Meanwhile, also in attendance was Howe’s trusted mentor, Ms Arorash, who was as a proud parent witnessing the occasion.
“When I walked through the doors this evening I had to fight back the tears when I saw her,” she said. “To see her with her cape and graduation cap on I realised there was a lot of sacrifice for her, being a single mother and having two young children to look after and work to support.
“When she told me her dream I encouraged her to come to the Department of Health and that maybe the road would not be so strenuous and I could work with her to be able to work out schedule to obtain her goal.
“In my career as a registered nurse it’s so important that we give back to the community and giving back to Debrina was a honour and to see her make it and stand here today is overwhelming and I’m really proud of her.”
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