Ruby Bryan, 62, receives the Charles A. Burns Outstanding Adult Continuing Education Student award during CEANY’s 2013 Annual Conference, held November 2013 in Ellenville, New York.

Ruby Bryan, 62, receives the Charles A. Burns Outstanding Adult Continuing Education Student award during CEANY’s 2013 Annual Conference, held November 2013 in Ellenville, New York.

1199SEIU member Ruby Bryan received the prestigious 2013 Charles A. Burns Outstanding Adult Continuing Education Student award, given by the Continuing Education Association of New York (CEANY). The award recognizes adult students who have overcome obstacles and who demonstrate drive and persistence.

CEANY is made up of three Regions and Ruby is the Region South winner, representing Hostos Community College. Ruby, 62, attributes her success to the 1199SEIU Training and Upgrading Fund. “If it weren’t for the Training Fund, I would not be where I am today,” Ruby said. “They were my source, my resource.”

Ruby’s move from Jamaica to the United States in 1989 was the start of a rigorous career and educational journey. When she arrived in New York City, Ruby quickly learned that she could not use the teaching certificate she earned back home, which meant she would have to re-enroll in a college to complete a teacher-training program. Ruby’s main goal was to provide financial security for her loved ones. “I had to take care of myself and my family back in Jamaica,” she said.

Her compassionate personality and natural knack for caretaking led her to work as a home health aide in the Bronx where she was honored for her excellent service by the Bronx Borough President’s office in 1990. Ruby continued to progress on her career path. In 1992, she became an 1199SEIU member and began working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at Beth Abraham Health Services.

In 2004, Ruby learned about the 1199SEIU Training and Upgrading Fund’s pre-LPN partnership with Hostos Community College. Ruby’s thirst for education drove her to pass the pre-test and to complete the 39-week program.  Ruby admits that balancing work and school was a challenge for her, however she used a strategy. “You have to condition yourself to learn. You have to know yourself, strengths and weaknesses. You also have to study the professor.”

In 2007, she earned her LPN certification and with the support of the Training Fund and Hostos faculty, Ruby became an RN in 2012 and graduated from Hostos with an Associate of Applied Sciences (AAS) degree. Ruby said that the Training Fund helped her reach these goals and she benefited from the counseling program when she needed assistance choosing the next stage in her career. “The Training Fund is so great and well rounded. They want to help you up and they build you up. You won’t get stagnant,” Ruby said.

Today, Ruby is a multigenerational role model. Her children have all pursued higher education, earning degrees in business, accounting and engineering. Ruby’s grandchildren love school because they have witnessed her success. When it comes to family and co-workers, Ruby continues to share her experiences. “My aim is to impart all the knowledge that I’ve learned.”

 

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