It was a bright spring day as Cynthia Bisson got out of her car, 150 miles away from home, for her first day of school to get her licensed practical nurse (LPN) degree. If you told her two years ago that she would be doing this, she’d likely shake her head and maybe crack a few jokes. But even if she didn’t realize it, this moment was one in the making for a long time. For Cynthia, it wasn’t only about going back to school. It was about a new beginning – and a chance to prove to herself that she could achieve what she didn’t think it was capable of. Cynthia’s story starts in Berlin, New Hampshire, where she was born, raised and still lives today. Her family has deep roots in the “Paper City” dating back several generations. While many family members – including her three siblings and parents – have since moved away, Cynthia proudly remains in the northern New Hampshire city. Back in high school in the 1980s, Cynthia’s friends would head home, play sports or hang out with each other after school, the average stuff teenagers may do. But for Cynthia, the final bell marked the start of the second part of her day, working the 3-9 p.m. shift at a local nursing home. At the time, it was more of a way of life versus looking to start a career. Money was tight in her household, and she needed to work the 30 hours/week to help make ends meet for her family. Soon after she graduated, she left her job at the nursing home and took some time off. But she recalls her father kept pushing her to get a more permanent job. Her grandfather was a resident at St. Vincent de Paul Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Berlin years ago and her father came across an LNA opening there. With a little prod, Cynthia applied and took the position. That was 31 years ago – and she remains at St. Vincent today. For her, it’s home. She considers the residents and staff as part of her family. Although people may come and go, the bonds she’s formed live on. And it’s been a great way for her, as a single mother, to raise her daughter and support their family. Like most LNAs, Cynthia was motivated to build a career in the healthcare field. In 2007, she became a Licensed Medication Nursing Assistant (LMNA), which added more responsibility to her work. The thought of nursing school and becoming an LPN or Registered Nurse (RN) crossed her mind, but she found reasons to put it off. “I lacked confidence growing up and really didn’t do well in school,” Cynthia shares. “Even hearing about the workload in nursing school was overwhelming. I always thought I would have to spend every waking second studying just to pass the entrance exam. Couple that with the fact I was a single mother with limited financial resources, and it didn’t seem entirely practical.” While Cynthia admits she’s one who likes to stay comfortable, she knows that life sometimes presents situations that challenge you to get outside your comfort zone – and take a chance. She says that moment usually happens every 15 years. 30 years ago, she got her job at St. Vincent. Nearly 15 years ago, she became an LMNA. Little did she know it, but her next opportunity was right around the corner. And it was going to be her biggest change yet.