Billi Gross and Matayah Berry

Nursing Technology

Student Spotlight
Portrait of Billi Gross and Matayah Berry at COTC's Coshocton campus.

For some, Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) is the beginning of their professional journey. For others, it’s a legacy they carry throughout their lives. For mother and daughter Billi Gross and Matayah Berry, it’s both.

The story started when Billi began her educational journey at COTC. She always knew she wanted to go to college, and becoming a young mother wasn’t going to be a deterrent. “I was 19 when I had Matayah, so I was nervous about going to college,” she says. “I knew I wanted to go; I had plans on going to college.” Billi was there for the opening of the Coshocton campus, finishing her LPN program at the extended campus.

The then-new Coshocton campus made her college experience even easier to navigate as a young mother. “At the time, she was a baby, so it was very convenient for me.” Billi also received her associate degree in nursing from COTC. She’s currently pursuing her master’s degree in nursing at a private nursing school, set to complete in 2025, at which point she’ll be a certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

Matayah grew up seeing Billi in the medical field, but she didn’t think it was for her. “With my mom always working in healthcare, I’ve always been around it. I swore up and down I would never do it,” she asserts. “And then as soon as I got my feet into it, I knew I wouldn’t want it any other way. Taking care of people — it’s just something amazing.”

Billi has worn many hats throughout her career, but her true passion lies in healthcare. Specifically, mental healthcare. Billi currently works at Genesis Healthcare system in Zanesville in both the general and psychiatric ER and the behavioral health unit, and she goes on assignments as a travel nurse. “I’ve always been drawn to mental health. I feel that’s the one area that doesn’t have a voice, so I wanted to help,” she explains. “I’m also drawn to crisis and emergency care, and those two always fit.”

Matayah originally had plans to become a radiologist. She was nearly finished with radiology school when she realized her true passion was nursing. “During clinicals, they kept telling me I was doing too much for the patients. And I was like, “If that’s the case, I’m just going to go take care of the patients.’” Matayah is currently pursuing her associate degree in nursing to become a registered nurse.

For Billi and Matayah, COTC has meant community and support. Both cited Jackie Farmer, the Coshocton campus student success coach, as one of the most impactful and helpful people in the COTC community. Jackie was Billi’s mentor in high school and is now Matayah’s academic advisor. “She really goes out of her way to make sure that everyone is taken care of and always has a smile on her face,” enthuses Matayah.

One of COTC’s core missions is to positively impact the lives of the communities we serve, including the lives of our students’ families for generations to come. Billi and Matayah are a clear example of that mission in action.