Employee Spotlights

‘Chasing my dreams’: Andrew Simiyu advances with education assistance

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Real stories as told by cherished people who live and work at Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS).

As a nonprofit where people make lifelong careers, we are committed to helping each employee grow into his or her optimum role.

Andrew Simiyu is no exception.

After moving from Kenya to the U.S. in 2018, Andrew entered his final year of high school and sought an after-school job.

While in the beginning, pushing grocery carts at Cub Foods earned him some cash, he longed to do more to help people.

So he joined PHS, the first of many stepping stones in a fulfilling career and education journey. With no prior experience, Andrew advanced his career while serving residents with care. In less than five years, he has become a registered nurse and will complete his Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2023.

Motivated by a childhood dream, Andrew says he will keep advancing with support from family, friends … and his enthusiastic team at PHS. Allow us to introduce you to Andrew, a four-time recipient of a PHS education assistance scholarship.

Andrew’s story

Andrew holding baby
Photo taken at Rasmussen University

Presbyterian Homes has played a big role in my educational journey. I will forever be grateful for the scholarships I received to keep chasing my dreams — to make the community a better place as well as honor God by enriching lives and touching the hearts of older adults.

First, I started as a new certified nursing assistant with no experience and quickly also became a trained medication aide. My supervisor made sure that I got enough training before I could work independently.

Since then, I have received a lot of praise for the work I do. My supervisors and colleagues came to love the person I was becoming. They even encouraged me to go to school because they thought I would make a great nurse.

Career & education milestones

CNA – Certified Nursing Assistant, 2019
TMA – Trained Medication Aide, 2019
LPN – Licensed Practical Nurse, Anoka Technical College, 2020
RN – Registered Nurse, Rasmussen University, 2022
BSN – Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Southwest Minnesota State University, coming in 2023

I decided to pursue nursing since my passion has always been assisting others and improving their quality of life. Becoming an RN positioned me to provide even better care to residents. I also gained more ideas for keeping me, my family and our community safe and healthy.

Now as an RN, I am still in the learning process, and whenever I have a question, someone is always there to inform me and educate me so that I become better. I realized that is just one of the ways we help other people grow.

Watch Andrew on ‘chasing my dreams’ (3 min.):

Flexibility & support

From the moment I started school, PHS gave me a very flexible schedule enabling me to work when not in class and giving me time off if needed. I’m not forced into picking extra shifts or working late. I’ve even found myself with extra time, and I choose to pick up shifts and go to work.

And I’m not stopping in my journey. It’s clear to me that if I do not complete my college degree, I can never achieve my highest career goals. I desire to be part of the health care administration team. I also aim to be a cardiac nurse after further study and certification. The heart fascinates me!

So, with the encouragement and support of my colleagues — and my fourth education assistance scholarship — I’m back in school, this time for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. All the while I keep serving residents whom I love like family at Maranatha in Brooklyn Center, Minn.

Inspiration

Inspiration from family & Black healthcare leaders

Andrew with Granddad
A proud moment: upon Andrew’s visit to Kenya, Granddad Moses Wekesa celebrates Andrew’s graduation as a registered nurse.

My dream to pursue a career in health care began from the time I was a child. When my father visited Kenya in 2009, I was 8 years old. I had a love for reading books and writing stories, and I was good at it. He brought me a book called Gifted Hands, which highlighted the rise of Dr. Ben Carson.

I had heard quite a lot that my father was a nurse here in the United States. Whenever he sent us photos of him in scrubs, I would compare the photos to other doctors in scrubs and just told everyone my dad was a doctor. I idealized him and wanted to be like him.

So I read the book he gave me and loved it. Dr. Ben Carson had a childhood just like mine. The dedication he put in to achieve what he achieved through the years gave me the morale to keep working towards my goals.

From then on, I wanted to join the medical field whether as a nurse or a doctor. I wanted to do something that would bring me closer to the first man to perform a successful surgery on conjoined twins. I worked hard in school and made sure I was perfect in what I did.

My grandfather always supported me and pushed me to work hard; he still does. In the past few years, however, my grandfather was diagnosed with diabetes, and it’s been a struggle for him. I remember in 2017, he had two near-death misses, and both times I stood helplessly watching him. I couldn’t do anything for him. It pushed me even harder to go to healthcare so that I could help him, and others like him.

Inspiration from Maranatha residents

Today, whenever I walk into Maranatha, it just feels like home. I love my residents, and many of them know my name.

Sometimes a resident’s family is far away, so we become their immediate family. Yesterday I was helping a resident with a crossword puzzle. She was feeling down because it was the fifth anniversary of her son’s death. So, I took some time to chat and do the crossword with her, and she felt really happy.

I believe people are created in the image and likeness of God, as the Bible says. So, we should all be treated equally. I know it’s also ethical for nurses to treat everyone the same way and to be just. I try to be the person any resident can talk to, and it just feels so good going around every day, talking and sharing life with them.

It’s like our mission: enriching the lives and touching the hearts of older adults.

Andrew with resident
Andrew and Carol

“I trust him with my life, and that is the honest truth. All through school I encouraged him. I honor him, I respect him and I cherish him.

“Even if he’s not assigned to my side of the hallway, he will, on his break, make a point of coming in and saying hello to me. And that means the world to me. I have a family that has abandoned me, and he’s become my family. And we’re as different as night and day; we’re the same as mother and son, does that make any sense?

“He’s very excellent at what he does, and this organization got very lucky to have Andrew here. And however they do it, to keep Andrew with them — even when I am no longer on this earth — that will be their opportunity.”

Carol, resident at Maranatha

Inspiration from colleagues & mentors

What also keeps me going every day is the pride my managers and coworkers feel for the success of one of their own. We’re always encouraging each other to pursue our dreams. The understanding and flexibility I receive is just the kind of support an employee would need from their employer.

And if my workplace really believes in what I can do — and is willing to support me in every way that they can — then, why can’t I?

Isaiah and Andrew
Clinical Administrator Isaiah Mageto supervises and mentors Andrew.

“My name is Isaiah Mageto, the clinical administrator at the Maranatha campus. I have been with PHS for 15 years now. Like Andrew, I started as a nursing assistant. Recently I completed a Master of Science in Nursing.

“When I look at Andrew, I see a bright future. He can be what he wants because he has the passion for nursing. It’s a calling.

“Andrew can do a master’s degree just like me. I encourage him to be aggressive with his studies and continue with his passion in caring for people.”

—Isaiah Mageto, Maranatha clinical administrator, RN, BSN/PHN, MSN

Learn more about Education Assistance

Because employees are the most important resource in our ministry, we offer Education Assistance Scholarships, Nursing Loan Forgiveness and Partnership Tuition Discounts. Learn more about the benefits of education assistance.

Interested in a PHS career?

Like Andrew, you could also help enrich the lives of older adults, working at a PHS community near you. We always have a wide range of positions open in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin, for a variety of careers. Whether you’re starting out, at mid-career level or looking for a post-retirement career, we encourage you to apply to join our team at preshomes.org/careers and follow our blog.

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