Chrispina Chitemerere ’13 and Joseph Baffour ’13 never knew each other before enrolling in the Elms College AcceleratedSecond Degree in Nursing program, but have a lot more in common than their home continent of Africa.

From Africa to Chicopee, Two Students Earn Second Degree in Nursing

Wed May 15, 2013

Chrispina Chitemerere ’13 and Joseph Baffour ’13 never knew each other before enrolling in the Elms College Accelerated Second Degree in Nursing program, but have a lot more in common than their home continent of Africa.

Chrispina earned a bachelor’s degree in education from University of Zimbabwe and became a high school teacher there. In 1998, a friend moved to the United States and encouraged Chrispina to do the same. She did, but found the American public school system simply too different from what she was used to, and sought out a new career. After caring for her now-deceased mother during a battle with cancer, Chrispina found her calling in nursing and became a licensed practical nurse (L.P.N.).

Her son, who was enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program in the area, encouraged Chrispina to get her nursing degree. She looked into another program in the area, but decided that Elms College was the best fit. “We both earned good grades, and would feed off each other for motivation,” she said.

A passion for caring must run in the family. Chrispina’s twin brother is a pharmacist in Zimbabwe and her sister is enrolled in the RN-BS program here on campus.

Joseph was born and raised in Ghana, and was working as a personal care attendant for patients who were physically, developmentally, or mentally challenged, utilizing his bachelor’s degree in psychology from University of Cape Coast (Ghana). Like Chrispina, he felt drawn to further his education in patient-centered care, and completed his nursing prerequisites at Holyoke Community College. He was set to enroll in the traditional baccalaureate nursing program at Elms College when the Accelerated Second Degree program was launched.

A husband and father of three young children, Joseph worked third shift the whole time he was in this program, meaning sleep was rare. “I would work 11 p.m. to 9 a.m. in Easthampton, and then drive straight to campus for a full day of classes or clinical rotations,” he said.

Chrispina and Joseph both prefer working with older patients, and hope to find employment in gerontology after taking the NCLEX exam. They have become good friends, and hope to maintain their friendship with each other as well as with the other ten 2013 program graduates.