TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Ellisa Durrant and Jaclyn Kelly have a friendship most people dream about. They met in college more than a decade ago and have been best friends ever since.
“This is actually my best friend slash sister," Durrant said. "We're family. We fight. We argue. We've been through a lot. We've been friends for, what, 13 years?"
They finished their bachelor’s degree side by side and went on to get their master’s degrees. They even vacation together, which is where they came up with their business idea.
It wasn’t long after that these budding businesswomen started CNA Technical. In February, they celebrated their one-year anniversary of training nursing assistants to enter the healthcare field.
“We teach not only the technical skills but also the compassionate side. Bedside manner is needed when you're caring for people that are disabled or geriatric or going through a tough time health-wise,” Durrant explained.
Durrant and Kelly don’t only teach compassion, they practice it through CNA Technical’s “Learn to Earn” free program, which helps students in low-income communities or those who have learning disabilities or criminal records get their CNA certification at no cost.
“I love people and I love to see the lives that we change. If we can change at least one life I am OK with that," Kelly said.
They’ve teamed up with local facilities like Gandy Crossing in Tampa. Through “Learn to Earn”, Gandy Crossing pays for training and CNA provides the care center with top-notch employees like Cierra Jones.
“I love it. I love my boss. I love working with the patients. I love that I am now able to be on the right track,” Jones told FOX 13.
CNA graduates are just as grateful for their teachers as they are for their jobs.
“I love them to death. Anything they need, I’ve got them. I love them,” said recent graduate Katrina Mingo.
The feeling is mutual. Durrant and Kelly say when students enroll at CNA Technical, they become family.
“We love it. We cry at the graduations, they cry. Just to see them coming out of the testing room knowing they passed. You just can't explain it,” Kelly said.
CNA Technical currently has classes in Tampa but Durrant and Kelly plan to open up other training centers throughout Tampa Bay.
For more information, visit CNA Technical's website.