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Meet Nyeri: ODA alumna and nursing student

Meet Nyeri Ellis, an alumna of Open Doors Academy from both the E-Prep Cliffs and Cleveland Central Catholic programs. Nyeri offers insights into her experiences within the program, the staff who mentored her, and how ODA helped prepare her for life outside school. Currently pursuing her nursing degree, Nyeri works as a behavior observer at Metro Health - Main Campus.

Meet Nyeri: ODA alumna and nursing student

Great to see you again, Nyeri. What do you remember about your experiences in our middle and high school programs?

Initially, I was a little quirky and socially awkward. I didn't really want to speak because I didn't know anybody, but I started to introduce myself and get along with everyone. I built a lot of friendships, some of which have lasted a long time. I made a few long-term friends like Justin Thrash, Katiana Lions, and Trai Nelson. They're amazing. I didn’t attend Cleveland Central Catholic but was able to attend ODA in high school because I lived in the area. I feel like those connections made my experience much better because I'm not typically one to make friends easily.

How did you hear about Open Doors Academy?

My mom actually heard about it. I didn't know anything about it until there was some type of event at the school. My mom signed me up because she thought it would be beneficial. She used to get off work late, and the program provided a good way for her to pick us up after work, which was a relief from being bored at home after school.

What are you doing now?

I'm currently a sophomore in college, majoring in nursing at Cuyahoga Community College. I work at Metro Health - Main campus as a behavior observer, where I sit with different mental health patients or older patients with dementia, Alzheimer's, or other mental health conditions.

How do you feel like your experience at ODA prepared you for the real world?

My experience at ODA made me less fearful, especially when it came to traveling. I had doubts about going to certain places, like Harlan, Kentucky, but the program helped me see the value in helping others. It exposed me to different colleges and environments, which broadened my perspective. Volunteering in Harlan was particularly impactful, as it allowed me to contribute positively to the community and develop valuable teamwork and leadership skills.

Speaking of leadership, you mentioned earlier that you also had the opportunity to be an intern. Can you tell us more about that?

I had the opportunity to be an intern during ODA summer camp. Being an intern was a great experience. It was initially challenging, as it was my first time in a leadership role, but I found it rewarding to be someone the kids could turn to for help. Teaching them about leadership and encouraging them to be independent thinkers was fulfilling, and it helped me build strong relationships with both the kids and the staff.

What do you remember about the staff at ODA?

Miss Anita stood out because she was there for me throughout my time at ODA. She provided support and guidance, even on my bad days. Mr. Joe Postwaite also left a positive impression on me during my high school years. Meeting a male mentor was important to me and he provided different perspectives on work and life. And Miss Gina Garrett has been incredibly helpful and supportive, making a significant impact on me, even now.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with the ODA community?

I would encourage everyone in the ODA community not to be afraid to explore new opportunities. To a new scholar, the program may seem daunting at first, but it offers valuable experiences and opportunities for personal growth. Pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone can lead to incredible outcomes, and ODA provides a supportive environment to help you achieve your goals.

Thank you, Nyeri!

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