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MHS’s Bryant following his calling

Walking down a hall at Gulf Health Care Center Jordan Bryant is warmly greeted by name by a resident in a wheelchair.

As he continues along several employees pause to say hello as he gave a quick rundown of his duties.

Bryant, an 18-year-old senior at Memorial High School, is currently training at the nursing facility as he works toward becoming a certified nursing assistant. His ultimate goal is to become a nurse practitioner working in pediatric oncology.

His passion caring for others comes through as he speaks of the job he holds four days a week during training.

“On a regular day I feed the patients because many of them cannot feed themselves due to a medical condition or Alzheimer’s . I have a conversation with them, ask them how their night or day was, get them up in bed, wash them up, change their diaper so they are fresh for the day,” Bryant said. From there the patients are brought to a common area where they can socialize, play bingo, do aerobics or other activities. “This keeps their desire to live. This is now their home and my goal, when I walk in, is compassion.”

Being in the healthcare field requires not just skills and knowledge but kindness and compassion, all of which his instructor Willie Mae Elmore, can attest to.

“He’s a person who has character and loves what he does,” Elmore said of Bryant. “

Elmore’s experience in the healthcare field spans decades — she became a nurse at 19 and now, at 64, has a plethora of knowledge to draw upon. At the age of 19 she took care of the first open heart surgery patient in Jefferson County and later took care of the first hemodialysis patient in the county. Bryant looks up to Elmore for both the knowledge she imparts and her love and passion for nursing.

“That’s the way I want to be,” he said. “I have a goal, I’ve set that goal and I will go after it.”

Bryant had an experience that helped him realize his chosen field.

“My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s two years ago and I took it upon myself to take care of her,” he said, adding he and his grandmother had a close relationship. “It was amazing and it was hard. That’s where my passion comes from.”

The last words he said to his grandmother before she passed away were a promise that he would become a nurse practitioner.

“It was a great experience and made me have tough skins and a hunger to go out and change lives,” he said. “It’s a calling. I know where I want to be.”

The health services program at the high school is successful. Elmore said last year she had 23 students and 22 graduates were certified with the help of the team she works with that includes Diane Marks and Barbara Minerd.

Besides being part of the health sciences program Bryant is enrolled in all advanced placement courses at high school, works as an office aid, takes part in University Interscholastic League One Act Play and UIL academics through prose and interpretation. He is on the Superintendent’s Advisory Board, Principals Advisory Board, a member of the National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society and will soon start community service at the YMCA of Southeast Texas –Port Arthur Branch.

“It’s difficult but it keeps me on my toes,” he said of his busy schedule. It’s a struggle but it keeps me motivates. I know what I want and what it takes to get there. I keep pushing myself. There’s such a stereotype; I want to show people that a black male can be a nurse.”

Bryant is thankful for having a very supportive family who constantly tell him ‘he can do it.’

Bryant is the son of Darnika Bryant and Wilton Bryant. He plans to attend Sam Houston State University.

E-mail: mary.meaux@panews.com

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