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NCCTI Graduates Pursue Additional Education to Further Careers

Lavel Chambers, left, and Denayah Reese, right, both graduated from the New Community Career & Technical Institute Patient Care Technician program in 2019, started their careers at Clara Maass Medical Center and are furthering their education to take their careers to the next level.

An education at New Community Career & Technical Institute (NCCTI) opens the door to a career in desirable industries. But it can also provide an important stepping stone to additional education and an enhanced career. Two women have taken full advantage of their NCCTI education and earned certifications and are now working toward additional degrees in their field.

Lavel Chambers and Denayah Reese were classmates in the Patient Care Technician (PCT) program at NCCTI. They completed the program in 2019 and both found employment at Clara Maass Medical Center. Both women have worked at the facility since getting hired, throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Now they are both enrolled in classes at Essex County College where they are pursuing additional degrees to advance in the area of nursing.

Chambers plans to enroll in a licensed practical nurse (LPN) program and then obtain her bachelor’s degree and become a registered nurse (RN). Reese hopes to become an RN and ultimately a nurse practitioner (NP), which is an advanced practice registered nurse who is trained to assess patient needs, order and interpret diagnostic and laboratory tests, diagnose disease and formulate and prescribe treatment plans. An NP requires a master’s degree.

“Lavel and Denayah are examples of how NCCTI’s Patient Care Technician program serves as a starting point for our graduates looking to continue to pursue a career in health care. They are examples of staying true to the concept of career growth, moving up the career lattice,” said NCCTI Director Rodney Brutton. “The sky is the limit for Denayah and Lavel because of their strong work ethic, their commitment to succeed and willingness to grow professionally.”

Their experience at NCCTI launched their careers and opened their eyes to the potential in the health care field. They received compliments from their instructors and their Clara Maass coworkers that encouraged them to pursue additional education.

Both Chambers and Reese credit their instructors at NCCTI with helping them succeed on the job.

“The hands-on training was an A+ for us,” Chambers said. She explained that when she first started working at Clara Maass, she immediately had to draw blood and perform EKGs, two of the skills she learned at NCCTI, without any on-the-job training.

In addition to the mechanical workings of phlebotomy and EKGs, Reese said PCT Instructor Dr. Maha Koltowski also taught students about bedside care.

“She taught us how to properly go in and talk to the patient. She taught us how to clean them,” Reese said. “Everything she taught us helped.”

Chambers works as a nurse’s aide in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Clara Maass Medical Center. Her job responsibilities include drawing blood, taking blood pressures and temperatures, cleaning and repositioning patients and transporting patients to other units. She has worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and has seen many COVID-positive patients.

Reese is a nursing assistant on the cardiac floor at Clara Maass Medical Center. She takes vital signs of patients, EKGs to check their hearts, draws blood, transfers patients to the operating room and discharges patients, which is her favorite task.

“My favorite part of my job is seeing the patients go home because I know that my coworkers and I did a great job caring for the patient,” she said. “I love to see them go home. I like to see them get into the car with their families and hug them. It’s a good feeling inside.”

Both women entered the health care field because of their experiences as children with family members. Chambers went to work with her mother, who served as a home health aide, as a child and remembered seeing her mother help those that needed assistance.

“To see the love and compassion that she had for her patients, I wanted to do the same thing,” Chambers said. “And then I want to pursue more education because she never finished going to nursing programs. So I’m trying to live for both of us.”

Reese cared for her grandmother when she was younger and helped other older relatives as well. Now she is furthering her education because she wants to make an even greater impact on patients.

“I have a passion for this deep down. I feel like I’m not at work, I’m at home. Like I leave home to go to my real home,” Reese said.

The commitment and enthusiasm for the field shined through when they were students at NCCTI. Both women attended class regularly, even amid some difficult circumstances. Chambers was working an overnight shift at FedEx while in the PCT program, which meant she left work at 6 a.m., took her children to school and then went straight to NCCTI for a full day of instruction. Reese had just turned 18 when she enrolled and was caring for a young son. But both were dedicated to earning their certifications.

“Lavel Chambers and Denayah Reese were good listeners in class. They were hard-working ladies with humble spirits. Both were attentive to the reviews at the end of the module, and they never got bored repeating the review more than once or twice. They were always following my coaching,” said PCT Instructor Dr. Maha Koltowski. “I kept telling them they have to further their careers because they are able and it is worth it.”

Both women agree that pursuing degrees is worthwhile and are excelling. Chambers has been inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success, the nation’s largest leadership honor society, and is on track to graduate from Essex County College with an associate’s degree early. Reese plans to begin the nursing program at Essex County College in the fall of 2022.

They each have families to tend to as well. Chambers has been married for 13 years and has four children ranging in age from 3 to 10. Reese has a 4-year-old son.

NCCTI staff members take an interest in students, understanding their circumstances and helping them on their path. That type of attention is welcomed by students.

“Everyone at NCCTI is caring and has compassion for everyone,” Reese said. “I didn’t think that they would actually take the time to care what my name was or anything. They came to the class every day making sure everyone was OK. And then the other resources helped too to actually get to school and stay in school.”

Resources including financial coaching, transportation vouchers and food assistance are accessible to NCCTI students to help them on the road to success. They are able to access those resources after they finish their program as well.

Students in NCCTI programs can expect to remain in contact with school personnel long after graduation.

“We as a school follow up and track our graduates to see how they’re doing. We have retention services to see if they have any career growth,” Brutton said. “It’s that holistic approach to helping our students, not only while they are here but as they transition into the workforce and remain in the workforce.”

Chambers and Reese are great examples of NCCTI fulfilling its mission to improve the quality of life of all students through education and occupational training in a community that fosters life-long learning.

NCCTI is an accredited post-secondary career and technical institution that offers the following programs: Automotive Technician, Diesel Technician, Building Trades Specialist, Clinical Medical Assistant, Patient Care Technician, Community Healthcare Worker, Culinary Arts Specialist and Business & Computer Technologies. NCCTI also operates a comprehensive Financial Opportunity Center and Bridges to Career Opportunities Program sponsored by the local and national Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) offices. For more information, call 973-824-6484, log onto or visit 274 South Orange Ave., Newark.