New Class Graduates from Shirley Ryan AbilityLab-Funded CNA Training Program at Oak Point University


New Class Graduates from Shirley Ryan AbilityLab-Funded CNA Training Program at Oak Point University


On Friday, July 14, the new class of graduates from Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s Oak Point University CNA Career Accelerator Program received their certificates in a ceremony attended by colleagues, family and distinguished guests.

The graduation ceremony included a reading by graduate Breanna Hawkins of the poem “My Caregiving Friend” by Tim Brennan, and remarks from Oak Point University’s Bill Spakowski and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s vice president and chief nursing officer Karen Colby, RN, and associate chief nursing officer Sharon Rangel, RN, DNP.

Congratulations to the Graduating Class!


  • Breanna Hawkins
  • Jillian Hopper
  • Sonya Minter
  • Destiny Williams

All four members of this class started at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab specifically to take part in the Oak Point CNA Career Accelerator Program. After they were accepted into the program and enrolled at Oak Point, they also began working at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab as nursing rehab aides.

“We all really appreciate the opportunity that Shirley Ryan AbilityLab has given us; and thank you to the Oak Point University teachers who were always willing to bear with us as we were learning,” said Jillian.

“I am speechless right now — thank you,” said Sonya.

About the Program


This unique opportunity — funded through Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s Robert R. McCormick Foundation Center for Hope & Equity — provides a fully paid fast track to educate, certify and employ certified nursing assistants (CNAs), also known in our organization as patient care technicians (PCTs). PCTs provide basic care to our patients, including basic hygiene, activities of daily living, and therapeutic rehabilitation activities.

Over eight weeks, students attend classes at Oak Point University’s building in Wicker Park (at the AMITA Health Saints Mary and Elizabeth Hospital): two weeks of classroom orientation followed by six weeks of one-day clinical experiences and additional classwork. Students are paid for their time in class and receive free tuition and course materials.

After completing the program, graduates are eligible to become PCTs after passing a final exam and test administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Apply to the Oak Point University CNA Career Accelerator Program


Anyone can apply for the next cohort in the Oak Point University CNA Career Accelerator Program. Click below to download a flyer to learn more:

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