For a new Philly-trained nurse, upskilling changed her life

When Marie Gates was 7, her family moved from Trinidad to Philadelphia. She grew up in Olney, dreaming of working in the fashion industry.

But after her son was born, she decided to become a medical assistant and moved to New York. The job paid just enough for her to get by. “I wasn’t struggling,” she explains, “but I was living paycheck to paycheck. I was always making a little too much for food stamps.” She began to worry about the future for her son.

One day, a doctor where she worked told her she would make a great nurse. Inspired, Gates began looking for schools that would allow a flexible schedule so she could keep working while taking classes. She found that the nursing program at Community College of Philadelphia would not only accommodate her schedule, it was affordable compared with other schools. Although it took her a year to regain her Philadelphia residency, she was able to obtain enough grants and scholarships to bring the total cost of the program to $13,000.