Despite her fear of failure and insecurities about tackling tough classes at age 35, Jonelle Hopgood enrolled in a 5-week pharmacy tech class at the Anderson Impact Center that gave her the opportunity to realize her true potential and a better life.
The journey that led Jonelle to the Pharmacy Tech program at The Anderson Impact Center took many years. She first enrolled at IUPUI when she was 25 years old, already married and with 4 children. Although only 25, she felt older than everyone else in school because of her family situation and out of place because of it. She dropped out and began a series of various jobs to support her family – working the front desk at a hotel, employed at a local factory, providing customer support at a local call center and working 10 years as a Certified Nurse Assistant.
Jonelle loved working in the medical field but she also recognized when it was time to leave. “The people you are taking care of are someone’s family. You need to care for them like you would want your family to be cared for,” Jonelle said. After leaving her position as a CNA, she knew at some point in the future she wanted to go back into the medical field.
Even though Jonelle was continually working, she struggled financially. The struggle was so great that she found herself evicted and living with her cousin. She was unhappy in her job and wanted more. She found the Pharmacy Tech course, part of the United Way funded education and job training programs at Anderson Impact Center, and enrolled. And though she knew it would be hard, she was excited to be part of it.
The idea of going back to school was hard because the intimidating thoughts of being older in classes returned. Jonelle shared, “Being around so many younger people in a school setting can be discouraging because it seems like they catch onto things so much faster. But I was encouraged as I watched another older woman - older than me - in classes. I told myself that if she could do it, I can do this. I won’t be ashamed of my age.”
The 5-week Pharmacy Tech class at The Anderson Impact Center was challenging. Other colleges offered the course as a 6 – 18 month program. The 5-week option offered a quick timeline for completion but that meant classes were intensive. Jonelle worked hard on the math component since that didn’t come easily. The teachers in the course helped her and others through the program with individual attention and teaching techniques that made a difference. Their efforts and Jonelle’s hard work helped her to complete the program with a 98%.
“Until then, I didn’t know I could do that,” said Jonelle. “I know now that I can make my dreams come true no matter how old I am. I can be an example to my kids. It showed me that I still got it!”
Before completing the program, Jonelle had job offers from two different companies and she is now working for Pharmakon doing a job she loves. She’s reaching the point of becoming financially stable and she’s proud of what she accomplished as it’s enabled her to take care of herself and her kids. She has even more dreams for the future, “I think now I can go back to school and start my nursing degree. I know now that I can do it.”