Combining her passions for health care and education, IDEA Dedicated Aide Michelle Bell is going back to school to earn her community health worker certificate. Beginning in August, she will be a student in the Professional Studies Department at Trinity Washington University. Bell has served as a dedicated aide at IDEA for the past two years, working with scholars who need extra support.
Bell brings plenty of experience and expertise to her new program of study. She has worked as a nursing assistant and medical assistant, a teaching assistant at an early childhood education center, and most recently a paraprofessional at St. Coletta of Greater Washington--a school for students with special needs. She earned her Certified Nursing Assistant credential through the Health Care Workers Union in Philadelphia and recently became a certified childbirth educator. She has almost completed her certified doula credential.
“I’ve always had a passion for the health field,” explained Bell. “Now I want to make a difference in the maternal and infant mortality rate in DC. My goal is to provide childbirth education classes and doula services in underserved communities in DC where families otherwise wouldn’t have access.”
After the birth of her son, Bell’s midwife encouraged her to become a doula. Before that, she had planned to become a registered nurse, but her own health challenges got in the way.
“I love helping people and making a difference,” Bell said. “I love doing work where I can see I'm making a change and contributing.”
The credits she earns in the Community Health Worker program over the next year are transferable to an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in health services at Trinity Washington. Bell plans to continue her education after she earns the certificate, but right now she’s taking it one class at a time.
After working with children from infancy to adolescence, Bell understands the importance of a strong early foundation. “I can see how the different experiences shape education from when children are little through high school,” she reflected. “You need a balanced, well-rounded foundation from the beginning. That foundation is built upon when children go through school. If they have gaps, they have to work to catch up and unfortunately some of them never catch up. The foundation of educational foundation can actually start in the womb. As a community health worker, I will be there in the beginning to help shape the course of children’s lives.”