When she started at The Guild in 2019 as an Overnight Residential Assistant with Sassafras House, Sandra Kalambayi never could have imagined that she’d be working here five years later as a School Nurse.
“It was curiosity that brought me to this field. I come from a background where talking about mental health isn’t common,” said Sandra. “I knew I wanted to do something that would allow me to help and serve people. It turns out, I liked working in this field and decided to stay.”
Sandra describes the first few months at The Guild as an adjustment. She had adapted to a new country - and, immediately upon her arrival, harsh New England winters - after moving from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now, she had to learn how to best work with the individuals in her care. She says that, along with having supportive colleagues, patience and a commitment to continuous learning helped her succeed.
“Of course, there are challenging days, but I tell myself I must do better every day. I can learn from yesterday’s mistakes and be patient with myself and the students,” she said.
In 2021, Sandra moved to The Guild School and served as a Medical Assistant for nine months. Here, she realized her passion for assessing and treating students’ medical needs. She applied to nursing school at St. Joseph’s in Nashua, New Hampshire. Despite her nervousness about the workload, Sandra accepted a spot in the program.
The Guild reimbursed Sandra for the entirety of her nursing school tuition. She was also able to continue working overnight shifts while she took classes.
“I would work mostly on the weekends and then go to school on Monday. It was hard, but I received a lot of support from my colleagues at Burlington House, The Guild’s nursing team, and Human Resources. Everyone was so encouraging and understanding if I needed to change my schedule,” she said.
For two years, Sandra managed her shifts at The Guild along with classes, homework, and practicum rotations. She says that the experience she gained from working with students and adults at The Guild aided her immensely in her nursing rotations. After countless late nights and early mornings studying, Sandra graduated with her Associate Degree in nursing last summer. Eager to continue impacting The Guild community, she accepted the position of School Nurse.
“As a nurse with The Guild School, I can combine the skills I gained from working in the residences with what I learned in nursing school to assess and treat students. Everything feels like it’s coming together,” said Sandra.
As for her advice to those just getting started in the field, Sandra emphasizes the importance of getting out of your comfort zone.
“I was scared to go to nursing school, but then I jumped in and did it. I knew I could do it because I had succeeded in my roles at The Guild even though I was initially intimidated. I’m pushing myself to face my fears – maybe one day I’ll skydive!”
Visit this page for more information about The Guild’s nursing and medical care team.