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Denayah Reese holds her son at the New Community Career & Technical Institute graduation Aug. 28 where she earned a certificate for completing the Patient Care Technician program. PCT instructors Tejumade Falae, left, and Maha Koltowski, right, show off her certificate.

NCCTI Graduate Thriving in New Health Care Career

Denayah Reese loves her new career, which she recently began after completing the Patient Care Technician (PCT) program at New Community Career & Technical Institute (NCCTI). At just 19 years old, she works as a nurse’s assistant at Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, providing direct care to patients during her shift.

Reese has been interested in the medical field since she was a young girl. Her grandmother was diabetic and she would help her. When her grandmother went to a nursing home, she would visit often, helping her and interacting with the other residents. She said she also became interested in the medical field because her father’s side of the family has heart issues, including her father who had a bad heart condition at the time of his death.

“I always wanted to work at a hospital because I wanted to help people,” Reese said. “When I was a little girl, I used to play with my dolls. I would sit them all around and pretend that I was their doctor.”

So when she graduated high school, after attending both West Side High School in Newark and Irvington High School, Reese researched area nursing programs and came across NCCTI. She was still 17 when she graduated, so she waited until her 18th birthday last October and filled out an application. Because NCCTI offers open enrollment, she was able to start class in February and graduated in August.

Reese has overcome some challenges. She has a 3-year-old son to support and has experienced homelessness. But that didn’t stop her from following her dream of working in a hospital.

“Denayah Reese is one of our shining stars. We are pleased to consider her as one of our successful graduates and alumni,” said NCCTI Director Rodney Brutton. “We welcome recent high school graduates who are looking for a valuable education option other than college and Denayah is a young lady that epitomizes who we’re looking to enroll in our school.”

Reese credits NCCTI with preparing her for the working world and helping her find employment. Her main course instructor was Maha Koltowski, who she said was extremely helpful and accommodating.

“I never had a teacher as good as Dr. Maha. I had some good teachers, but she was a great teacher,” Reese said. “Dr. Maha was willing to stay late so we could make up our hours, catch up on things we may not understand, if we wanted to go to the laboratory. She was willing to do it.”

Koltowski said Reese was a model student, taking copious notes and sharing them with her classmates, paying attention to demonstrations and volunteering to try procedures first. She sees a bright future for Reese.

“She was one of the best students,” Koltowski said of Reese. “I expect her to be an RN one day. And I’m encouraging her to complete her studies.”

In addition to the knowledge Reese gained from the program, NCCTI helped her in other ways as well. She received a voucher for Career Closet to obtain professional attire to wear on her interview from Joann Williams-Swiney, NCCTI Income Support Specialist and Director of the Family Resource Success Center. Brutton connected Reese and her classmates to human resources personnel at a number of area hospitals and then followed up on the status of their applications once they applied. Reese also met with Financial Coach Tamara Brown in the Financial Opportunity Center and plans to return for additional guidance in a few months.

“The whole experience was great. Everybody was nice and welcoming. I felt comfortable with everybody. I could come to anybody in any situation regardless of if it was about school or anything else. They were there to help,” Reese said. “I’ve never been to a school where they care about you this much.”

Reese recommends NCCTI to others. She knows three current PCT students that she referred.

“I made sure that I advertised it in a positive way because the school has benefited me in a great way,” she said.

NCCTI is an accredited post-secondary career and technical institution that offers the following programs: Automotive Technician, Diesel Technician, Building Trades Specialist, Clinical Medical Assistant, Patient Care Technician, Community Healthcare Worker, Culinary Arts Specialist and Business and Computer Technologies. NCCTI also operates a comprehensive Financial Opportunity Center and Bridges to Career Opportunities Program sponsored by the local and national Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) offices. For more information, call 973-824-6484, log onto or visit 274 South Orange Ave., Newark.

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