At the age of 26, Tyler Cannon is on his way to completing the Basic Nursing Assistant (BNA) program at Malcolm X College’s satellite location, the West Side Learning Center. Tyler, a resident of Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood, dreams of becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner, a goal that requires him to think big and push through the challenges that come with a career change.
“Although I have a good job, there’s more I want to do and learn,” he said.
After researching programs and exploring his options, Tyler enrolled at Malcolm X College, where he was happy to discover that financial aid covered most of the program cost.
“I almost quit before I began,” he says now in disbelief. “I was overwhelmed. But my good friend and my dad kept me on task. Both were in my corner, reminding me to just start and focus on accomplishing one thing at time—and take it day by day. I now tell others who ask, ‘It is totally worth it, and, yes, you can do it.’”
The BNA program at City Colleges of Chicago prepares students to earn a Certified Nursing Assistant credential in Illinois. It allows students like Tyler to begin work in the healthcare industry as soon as they earn their credentials, and the credits they earn through the program will also count toward their associate degrees.
While working in his previous role as a security guard in a healthcare setting, Tyler saw first-hand how Black patients’ concerns were often ignored and misunderstood by medical staff. He hopes his presence and expertise will improve the experiences of people of color in the healthcare system.
“I think seeing a Black male nurse will give patients more confidence in the medical system and help to build trust. I want people to feel seen and heard,” he said.
Tyler will complete the BNA program on March 12, 2023, and has plans to quickly go on to earn his associate degree in nursing at Malcolm X and his bachelor’s in nursing through one of City Colleges’ transfer agreements with a four-year college or university.
“I have two young daughters and want the best for them,” he said. “I know a career in nursing will provide all we need. But more than that, I want to help patients get the best medical care available.”