top of page
Recent Posts

PHOCAS on Success


Yolanda Johnson had been thinking about going back to school. She was working as a Ward Clerk in a nursing home earning $8.50 an hour. She understood that she would have to make a change if she wanted her life to change. But how could she? She felt stuck financially. She was already having trouble making ends meet! Just how could she move forward?

She dreamt of having a career that could mean financial stability for her. She dreamt of a family, too. Yolanda felt that her exposure to the medical field and what she had learned from her work experience would prove helpful if she could pursue a nursing degree.

Yolanda knew that if she did nothing – then nothing would happen. So quite determined (but desperate), Yolanda entered the Ouachita Career Solutions Center on March 28, 2011. She was met by Tiffany Smith (PHOCAS Career Coordinator). Ms. Johnson explained to Tiffany that she was ready to make the “Big-Move” but just had no way of paying for schooling. Yolanda smiles now as she relates her discussion with Tiffany. She recalls that Tiffany told her that she had come at the right time and that she just might qualify for a program that could provide her with the assistance that she needed. Tiffany told her about PHOCAS.

Once in the PHOCAS program, her student liaison followed her progress and reminded her that attendance and good grades are what keeps one eligible for continued sponsorship and support! In time, PHOCAS staff began talking with her about job placement, always helping to keep her looking forward. Not long before Yolanda completed her clinical training, she was encouraged to apply for a position at a nursing home. She did and was hired, initially earning $11.25 per hour.


Yolanda graduated from the Licensed Practical Nursing Program in May of 2013. She is just as appreciative to this day as she was during her time in school. She readily expresses her gratitude to PHOCAS. She says that if it had not been for PHOCAS she would probably still be that Ward Clerk just dreaming of a better career. She is confident that she could not have enrolled in the practical nursing program without the help of this HPOG program. Additionally, she explained that the supportive services that she received allowed her to focus on her academics and to be successful. In particular, she mentioned transportation assistance, a supportive service that Yolanda declares allowed her to “Stay in school.” All of this help, blended with the added staff support, she really could have “NO EXCUSES” to quit. Yoland