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Practical Nursing Alum WHOLE HEARTEDLY Loves Her Career

With only two hundred dollars in her pocket and a one-way bus ticket to Florida, A’Lea Smith embarked on a journey that would forever change her life. “I was 19 years old and trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do, basically on a mission to build a new life and start my future.” A’Lea had no idea that the journey she was about to take would present her with some of life’s most challenging obstacles. She was also unaware of how much strength, resilience and courage she was made of.

A’Lea settled into Bradenton, Florida and was blessed to find a job in sales. She worked hard and as time went by, she climbed the salary ladder, earning $250K per year. She purchased a home and was diligent about saving every extra dollar she could. A’Lea also found love and was thrilled when she became pregnant in 2017. Everything seemed to be going great, until it wasn’t. At 5 months A’Lea suffered a miscarriage, losing her first child, a daughter she named Zoe. “I was in the darkest place I’ve ever known. I can clearly remember it being a turning point for me.” A’Lea was desperate for a change, something to distract her from the pain of her loss. She decided to go back to school to pursue a career path that she had always considered, but simply lost sight of.

“When I was younger, I always said I was going to be a nurse. I wasn’t ready until now. It’s weird how good things can come out of bad situations but sometimes they do.”

A’Lea enrolled in the Certified Nursing Assistant Program at Suncoast Technical College. She quit her job and lived off what she had saved. She also became pregnant again and was optimistic that her future was beginning to take shape. Everything seemed to be going great again, until it wasn’t. A’Lea suffered a second miscarriage. “I was devastated but I had no job and a mortgage to pay. I had to figure it out.” Her resilience and strength kept her in school, determined to complete the Practical Nursing Program at STC. While in school during the day, she worked nights as a CNA at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and took Prerequisite classes at State College of Florida.

“I am so grateful for the Nursing Program at Suncoast Technical College.”

A’Lea says the program was great and the Instructors were greater, all being current or former nurses themselves. “They all teach the same curriculum but with different mindsets and for me, learning by doing is the best way, not just from a textbook, cut and dry.” While at STC, A’Lea celebrated the birth of her son Jet. She says that her instructors were more than just teachers, they were genuinely invested in their students’ success and future. She says the best advice she received was from Instructor Cynthia Scanserole, which was, “Don’t lose your heart in it.” A’Lea says that she is WHOLE HEARTEDLY in it and doesn’t see that changing anytime soon. 

After completing the LPN Program at STC, A’Lea took some time off to spend with her son. Three months later she became pregnant with her daughter Josie. A’Lea currently works at Post Accute Medical (PAM) where she has seen many patients on life support and ventilators due to Covid. She credits STC for her preparedness in challenging situations like these and says that even though there is a lot of pain and suffering, she is thankful for a job where she is able to help others.

“People are sick and when they are sick, they can be a handful to deal with. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine. But like Miss Scanserole said, if your heart is in it, you love what you do no matter how bad a day you might be having, and she is absolutely right.”

For more information about the STC Practical Nursing Program, please visit our PROGRAM link at or contact a school counselor at 941-924-1365 / Ext. 62283


December 7, 2021

By Laurie Dillon