From a young age, Reina Arey wanted to be a nurse. Back then, she was in awe of the nurses who cared for her younger siblings in the NICU. Today, it is the nurses braving the COVID-19 pandemic who continue to inspire her as she pursues a nursing degree at Central Ohio Technical College (COTC).
“Nurses have a desire to help people. When someone is hurt, nurses can nurture them back to a healthy state,” she said as she explained her appreciation for the profession.
With a little push from a friend and guidance from a church superior, Arey finally acted on her desire to be a nurse nearly a decade after graduating from high school. As a student starting college in her late twenties, COTC’s combination of small class sizes and supportive staff created the setting she needed to persist.
“I’ve always had easy access and communication with my advisor,” she said. It’s one of the reasons why she likes COTC.
Just when Arey was looking for a peer group for an additional layer of support, she was invited to join the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society. “I like what PTK stands for: building up and giving back to the community,” she said.
In February, eight members of COTC’s PTK chapter executed a campaign called “Spread the Love” in which they collected and donated items to the Newark Homeless Outreach Program. Arey contributed the idea, recalling an earlier class assignment.
“Over the summer I had to write a paper; I picked homelessness.” Arey described how she was referred to COTC and PTK alumna Patricia Perry, who is co-founder of the Newark Homeless Outreach Program. For more than two years, the outreach has been providing food and supplies to Newark’s homeless population at the corner of North Buena Vista and East Main Streets each Saturday. “I wanted to have a better understanding [of the local homelessness situation], so I ended up going down on a Saturday with the Newark Homeless Outreach and interacted with the homeless. It gave me better perspective.”
Though Arey and her PTK peers have never met in person due to COVID-19 restrictions, they orchestrated and carried out the campaign with great success. Perry provided a list of needed items – necessities like gloves, socks, toiletries, wash cloths, feminine hygiene products, disposable cutlery packets, cotton swabs and plastic bags – that were collected on campus, from friends and family, and in the community. The PTK group exceeded their goal, collecting more than 2,000 items that Arey delivered to Perry on March 12.
“I am very excited to be able to represent PTK and COTC,” said Arey. “This is the absolute definition of people pulling together for something we believe in.”
She added, “PTK can be an inspiration for people who need guidance or a friend or support group while they are going through college.”