Determined to never give up, Master of Public Health (MPH) graduate Tameca Reynolds jumps through hoops to show the non-believers that she will succeed… one degree at a time. She will walk down the graduation aisle this weekend with her mom, Novelette Gooden, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) graduate.
“I always wanted to be a doctor but my freshman year in high school, I failed biology,” Tameca said, detailing harsh words from her counselor about the slim odds of getting into college. “So I obtained an associate degree in 1.5 years with honors. I had to strengthen my weakness. I took on the challenge and kept going." She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree, again with honors, majoring in biology.
Finding Her Path; Making a Difference
This seems to be the way for Tameca – always striving to hit her next goal, never veering from the ultimate plan of becoming a doctor but sometimes having to take the path less traveled. After college when her mom said she couldn’t afford to send her to medical school, she had two options – “I could finish or I could quit. I’m not a quitter.”
Putting her dream on hold, Tameca joined the working world, wanting to give back. She is now a residential program manager supervising three homes for high-functioning young adults who suffer from various disabilities such as Down syndrome, mental retardation and autism. She supervises a staff of 20. “People look at my clients and they don’t understand their diagnosis. I want to be an advocate and be their voice.”
Time to Earn Another Degree
Tameca loves to learn and said once she heard about Chamberlain’s MPH program, she immediately enrolled. “I had two goals – I wanted to learn all that I could about how to prevent diseases and how to help people live their best life. Public health taught me all of that. Chamberlain made me find my purpose again.”
Praising her teachers in the MPH program, Tameca said they kept pushing her to accomplish more – participating in meet-and-greet events and hosting webinars. “I’m very hands on and I want to be out there in the community doing my best work.” Besides spending her days working and going to school full time, Tameca also just enrolled in a public health doctoral program. Long term, she hopes to travel to underserved countries like Africa to treat young people who have been exposed to world hunger or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Or she said perhaps she’ll become a professor, traveling the world to help others while teaching.
Supporting Abuse Victims
Currently, the New York native Steps Forward by working with children who have been abused and serving on different healthcare committees outside of her daytime job. “These people have no voice and no family so I find support for them.” She also teaches them how to stay safe, identify abuse and to notice when someone is being neglectful. “It strengthens me as a person – to educate someone. My best approach is that I listen. They all have a story and they need to be heard rather than be told what to do.”
Tameca’s leadership style has earned her several accolades from colleagues and supervisors but most importantly from parents of her residents. “My role is to be a jack of all trades – the administrator on duty, the person who jumps in to assist with a crisis situation and the one to bring everyone to safety. I’m never too good to roll up my sleeves.”
Sharing Tassels with Mom
Tameca’s job this weekend is to celebrate with her mother. Growing up in Jamaica, Novelette came to the United States as a teenager and started her career as a certified nursing assistant just like her own mother. After a few years, she became a licensed practical nurse but couldn’t go any further with her educational plans until Tameca finished college. Once she graduated, Novelette jumped back in to become a registered nurse and soon landed a job as a unit manager in charge of other nurses. “They had their bachelor’s degrees and I thought, ‘Let me step it up a notch.’” Her boss was enrolled at Chamberlain at the time so she signed up too. Before she knew it, Tameca decided to join the academic party. Now a nurse manager in a special care center at a nursing home, Novelette said she and Tameca bonded during their study sessions, with her relying on Tameca to help with the computer.
Raising Tameca as a single mother, Novelette said she didn’t have to worry about her daughter in school. “She pushed herself. She was always a little smarty pants and I tried to provide as much as I could to help her get to where she’s at today.” Thinking about the future, Novelette said, “Tameca wants to open up her own practice one day and says we’ll work as a team. She said I can be the nurse and she can be the doctor. We’ll see how that works,” she laughed. “She’s a go-getter and I’m very proud of her.”
Ready to earn your next degree? Learn more about Chamberlain’s MPH program.
By Heather L Hurtado
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