Conference participants hear from nurses and health care professionals about what their career path could look like. (photo by Larry Dalton)

Say Yes

Yes 2 Kollege helps African-American students find an education and a career

Back Article Aug 31, 2017 By Robin Epley

Dee Lucien is waiting patiently. She’s on the shortlist for a spot in the prestigious doctoral program at UC Davis’ Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, thanks to a full-ride scholarship she says she never would have known about if it hadn’t been for one local nonprofit.

Yes 2 Kollege helps African-Americans in the greater Sacramento region achieve their educational goals and realize a path into the health care industry, says Executive Director Sharon Chandler. One way the nonprofit does this is through an annual conference held at the UC Davis Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. The nonprofit partners with the university to assist attendees in applying for UC Davis scholarships.

“We’re like the middle man,” Chandler says. “We get the resources to the people and the people to the resources.”

A panel of retired and current nurses discuss the obstacles they have faced as African-Americans in nursing careers at Yes 2 Kollege’s inaugural nursing conference last year.

Lucien, who hopes to enter the nursing doctoral program this fall, received her scholarship at last year’s conference. A second scholarship went to a young woman pursuing her master’s degree in nursing at UC Davis.

Lucien currently teaches nursing at Sacramento City College, where she serves as faculty adviser for the school’s National Student Nurses Association chapter. She says the conference helps students navigate a career path in nursing. “They get to learn what a nurse is, how you get in, the salaries and what motivates someone to do nursing,” she says. “They hear testimonies they can relate to, that build confidence, and take that home.”

In 2015, the California State Senate designated August as African-American Women’s Health Legacy month, Chandler says, which is why she decided to hold the annual conference during that time. This year’s conference, to be held on Aug. 26, will include discussions on nursing technology, a panel on the need for African-American nurses, free healthcare screenings and a job fair. There will also be another round of scholarship application assistance and mentorship pairings, Chandler says.

The nonprofit also offers a mentorship program to middle and high school students, as well as a job shadowing program each July. To date, Chandler says, they’ve helped find mentors for nearly 300 students in the Sacramento area, or about 70 students annually.

“We want to help people wherever they are in their career and show them a path to whatever level they want to get to,” Chandler says.