Daughter drives mother's caregiver career
Mykhala Shackelford has long been a source of inspiration to her mother, Sharita Turner. Last July, the then-4-year-old motivated Sharita to apply for a scholarship to attend MCFI’s Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training program. One month later, the single mother of two drew on Mykhala’s spirit to see her through the program.
“The CNA class started on August 30, and Sharita’s daughter passed away only 12 days earlier,” said Linnea Kubiak, MCFI Customer Relations Coordinator and lead administrator of the CNA program. “I was absolutely amazed at how positive, driven and single-minded she was through all of this. Sharita was just very passionate about wanting to work in the medical field as a CNA and committed to being in class every day.”
Sharita’s enthusiasm and intense focus allowed her to excel in the three-week program, which requires students to complete 88 hours of classroom training and 32 hours of clinical preparation. She was even recognized for her outstanding performance in the program with an MCFI Employment Services Spotlight Award.
“My original purpose for wanting to be a CNA was to learn how to take better care of Mykhala,” said Sharita. Mykhala was enrolled at MCFI Pediatric Special Care at the time of her death. The program provides skilled nursing services for children ages birth to 20 who are living with special health care needs.
“But when Mykhala passed, then my motivation changed to wanting to help others," Sharita said. "Doing that in her memory has helped me deal with the grief.”
Shortly after earning her CNA license, Sharita began pursuing a new goal: obtaining her nursing degree. Sharita already holds an associate's degree in finance from the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC). She re-enrolled at her alma mater with the intent of raising her core grade point average enough to be admitted into Cardinal Stritch University’s Nursing program for the 2011-12 academic year.
As Mykhala inspired her, Sharita hopes her caregiver example will encourage other parents to take an active role in the treatment of their children with special health care needs.
"Every parent should take the time to get to know their kids and their medical needs,” said Sharita, who is currently employed in the Billing Department at Milwaukee’s Froedtert Hospital. “Tomorrow’s not promised to anyone – and that’s especially true for children with disabilities. Doctors told me Mykhala wouldn’t live to see her first birthday, but because of the care she received at home and at MCFI, God gave her three extra years. Parents need to do all they can to help their children, who can’t help themselves.”