As the sun set on exam day, Susan Rindoria couldn’t wait to see the results. She’d waited a long four years for this moment.
You may remember Susan. She is a single mom, who in 2019, made her way from Kenya to New Hampshire, looking to start a career in healthcare and a new life with her three children. Shortly after securing a position as a Licensed Nursing Aide (LNA) at Mt. Carmel Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Manchester, COVID-19 forced her out of work for a month. Fortunately, with support from Mt. Carmel and the Catholic Charities NH Crisis Fund, Susan and her family not only weathered the storm but also set the stage for a series of transformative moments made possible through Catholic Charities NH.
Making an Immediate Impression
When she became an LNA at Mt. Carmel, it didn’t take long for those around Susan to see her potential and nudge her toward advancing her career.
“All my nurses, and even the administrator, were telling me I should go to school to be a nurse,” she recalls. “I had only been here for a year, but they kept telling me to apply for the Pathways scholarship.”
The Pathways program, supported in part by donors, provides full-tuition scholarships and supplies for LNAs to attend a full-time Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) degree program. Available to select employees at Catholic Charities NH, the program also includes other scholarship and career advancement opportunities for frontline healthcare workers.
“I felt lucky to be among the chosen few and it was exciting to go to school,” Susan says. “It wasn’t easy because it was like having three full-time jobs – being a single mom, working at Mt. Carmel and going to school full-time. But I had support if I needed help or flexibility with my work schedule.”
“Susan stood out early on because of her personality and I would always hear how kind and compassionate she was with the residents,” remembers Joe Bohunicky, administrator at Mt. Carmel. “Those are the people that rise to the surface, that you want on your team.”
Dealing with Loss
Susan started nursing school in mid-2021 and completed her classes by the fall of 2022. To become a nurse, however, graduates need to pass the board exam. Sadly, Susan had to delay that step due to personal tragedy.
“I met my boyfriend at the time I started school,” she remembers. “He was great with my children, but he passed away unexpectedly and it affected me so much. I had to take a break from studying and deal with the depression of my loss.”
Once again, Mt. Carmel supported her with bereavement leave, allowing her the time to grieve before returning to her LNA role and preparing for the board exam.
“I felt like I was giving up,” she says, “but I was telling myself, ‘you did a lot, graduating from nursing school is not a joke,’ and when I felt my heart was healed and I was at peace, I went for the exam.”
November 17, 2023
Susan was well-prepared for exam day, and confident she would do well, but that didn’t make it any less stressful. That anxiety melted away in the warm afternoon sun.
“Thank God the results came out before the day ended,” she recalls with a smile, “and I passed!”
She wasn’t the only one who was excited – her fan club at home was also overjoyed.
“My kids used to tell me, ‘Mom, you take half the dining table with your books and we don’t have enough table for our food,’” she laughs. “They were so excited when I passed and said, ‘we’re so proud of you, Mom – you made it!’ They tell me that every day. And now our table is clear too.”
Pride also filled Mt. Carmel. “We are very proud of Susan,” says Rachel Lentine, Mt Carmel’s director of nursing. “With all she went through, when she passed the exam, it was very exciting and nice to see her so proud too – and she doesn’t want to stop there, she wants to keep going and learning.”
Susan Rindoria, LPN
Susan’s life continues to change for the better. The pay increase that accompanied becoming an LPN is a big help as she raises her three children, ages 16, 14 and 7. At work, she started her nursing duties right away and has adapted to her new role, both with residents and fellow staff.
“I was a little afraid of how it would go with the LNA’s I used to work with,” she says. “Are they going to listen to me or see me as a nurse? But they were happy for me and we work together well as a team. As long as we are focused on the residents, that’s the most important thing. It’s the reason we’re here.”
Four Years of Learning & Gratitude
In just over four years in the US, Susan has experienced a lot of highs and lows, but has grown through her journey.
“I’ve learned to never give up, that it’s okay to ask for help if you need it and, no matter what the situation is, to pray to God to make me strong.”
She also knows that it took a combined effort – her determination and hard work, plus the support from Mt Carmel and donors of Catholic Charities NH – to get her to where she is today.
“I feel that Mt. Carmel is such a caring community, to the residents and the staff, and they have this love of God. I thank them and Catholic Charities for giving me the scholarship – it wasn’t easy but I kept the dream alive and finally made it. I’m so grateful to all who made it possible for me to change my life.”