Helen’s Story

An Immigrant’s Path to Johns Hopkins Hospital

Helen Tekleweini came to the United States from Eritrea five years ago with her husband and three young boys. They were the first from their family to immigrate and had no other family in the U.S. Helen held a diploma in accounting in her home country and, before leaving, worked as a customer service representative and supervisor.

She has come a long way since her first job in her adopted country as a cashier at a gas station. Although it was difficult to make ends meet, in this job Helen was able to improve her English and better understand the culture through day-to-day interactions with customers.

Through a grant from Maryland’s Department of Labor, BACH launched a health care apprenticeship program targeting current workers and unemployed refugees or immigrants. In addition to moving residents from low-wage jobs to well-paying careers, the program addresses the critical shortage of skilled workers in the health care industry.

The BACH Apprenticeship Program was designed for residents like Helen Tekleweini.

Through the program, Helen received certifications in CNA/GNA Training and Dementia Training, along with CPR and First Aid. This allowed her to work part-time as a nursing assistant in home health care, where she was responsible for maintaining records of patient care and sharing information with the patients’ families.

After completing BACH’s Environmental Care (EVC) Supervisor Apprenticeship Program at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Helen was hired as an EVC Supervisor. “As an apprentice, I learned many lessons which helped shape my professional development and improve my job performance,” says Helen. During the program, she created a resume and cover letter and prepared for the position interview.

Now that she works full time at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Helen has increased her income, taking her a step closer to her dream of buying a house for her family. She is proud to be an employee of such a well-known institution and plans to return to school to earn a degree in Nursing or Health IT, while continuing to build upon her career.

Helen is featured in this article about the Johns Hopkins EVC Supervisors Apprenticeship Program.

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