It’s a brisk, fall afternoon and Alaina waits patiently for the Trimet bus to arrive and take her to work. She’s wears a colorful scrub top and pants, with a watch on her wrist, and pens in her pocket. Alaina is prepared and confident for her first day as a certified nursing assistant.  

Earlier this year, Alaina’s life was very different. She was enrolled in college courses but had been struggling with depression for quite some time. She began experiencing psychosis and anxiety along with the depression.  Alaina took a break from school and went to live with her Aunt and Uncle, who referred her to the Early Assessment and Support Alliance (EASA) program.

EASA is an early intervention program helping young people experiencing the first symptoms of psychosis. The EASA team works with clients to develop person-centered plans that include mental health care as well as educational, occupational, peer, and employment support.

Alaina enrolled in EASA and started receiving support from her therapist. Soon, she began meeting with Tosha Bock, an EASA Supported Employment Specialist. Together they explored Alaina’s interests and various ideas for employment. Alaina had previously spent 2 years of her high school career in a charter school that was centered on the medical field.  She was drawn to the nursing field and asked Tosha for help getting a job as a nursing assistant. “Tosha helped a lot. She looked for job leads and we discussed different positions,” Alaina states, “just having that extra support and someone there to assist you looking for work really helped because sometimes it’s hard to get up and look.”

With Tosha’s help, Alaina created a resume and practiced her interview skills, which quickly landed her a part time position at Prestige Senior Living as a nursing assistant. Tosha continued to meet with Alaina after she got the job so they could discuss challenges that came up on the job and problem solve solutions.

They also continued to explore careers Alaina was interested in and not long after beginning her new job, she had been accepted in the course for her to become a certified nursing assistant. Alaina states, “Tosha encouraged and supported me towards applying for the course. She helped me when I thought about quitting and encouraged me to continue working hard.”

Today, Alaina couldn’t be happier with how far she’s come. “Starting to work has given me more confidence in myself and it feels good to be able to support myself” Alaina states. She’s recently completed the certified nursing assistant course and was offered a full time position immediately after finishing.

“I thoroughly enjoy every opportunity I have to help Alaina,” Tosha states, “It has been great cheering her on and watching her achieve her employment goals. She is such a hard worker and will have many more opportunities for growth within her personal and professional life.”

For future plans, Alaina states, “I plan to work for Prestige for at least a year and enlist in the military to continue pursuing a higher education, maybe as a Medical Assistant.” The sky is the limit and Tosha states, “Alaina has a strong desire to succeed and grow within a position. I know she can do anything she sets her mind to and I look forward to seeing where the future takes her.”