Prison nurse, mentor travels the road less traveled to lend skills

Kecia Charles (right) talks to colleagues.

Kecia Charles has always had a desire to help others.

The St. Rose native has been a registered nurse for 25 years and currently serves as the Health Services Administrator at the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center in Killona, ​​where she supervises staff providing care to over 400 inmates. Beyond her work there, however, she regularly mentors young women in the community, bringing her wisdom to them to help them succeed.

When choosing a career, Charles had two distinct paths in mind, each a path for others: nurse and teacher, and she was torn between them.

Ultimately, her calling was a nurse, noting that this decision was sort of a natural call. Charles has solid bloodlines in the medical field.

“I come from a long line of nurses in my family,” Charles said. “My older aunt was one of the first African-American nurse administrators in the Veteran’s Administration. I have two sisters and eight cousins ​​who are nurses… I like to say that caregiving is in our DNA.

It’s a decision she has no regrets about.

“Nursing is stimulating, interesting and allows me to make a difference in people’s daily lives. Working in corrections allows me to provide quality health care to an underserved population.

His last point is essential. Charles has spent most of his career providing his skills to underserved communities, embracing what is the road less traveled for many.

“Most of my career has been spent in specialty areas where some would hesitate, particularly infectious disease and corrections,” said Charles. ” I hug him. Teaching someone how to improve their quality and quantity of life in terms of their health gives me so much satisfaction.

“I always love seeing former patients in public and hearing them tell me how they have improved their health… I feel a sense of accomplishment and I feel that my discussions and my teaching moments were not there. not in vain.

It also keeps her highly motivated on a daily basis.

“I have to be the best of myself every day because no two days are the same,” said Charles, who worked with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office for 16 years.

Her mentorship is the result of her fondness for young people, as well as a strong belief that the best way to ensure that a community grows and stays strong is through her children. She offered advice on choosing career paths and applying for financial aid – for some in need, she even paid the college application fee herself to make sure they would be able to. get a college education.

“The strength of our community is the youth,” said Charles. “If we train our young people, they will in turn build our community. I have supervised several young girls and it gave me great pleasure… when I see young people succeed, it warms my heart.

Charles said these are very important years for college-aged young people as decisions are made that can affect their life and career path.

This sometimes offers a little headache: it’s also a time when many are not at all sure what they would like to pursue, from a career perspective.

“A lot of young women have no idea what they want to do over the next 30 years,” Charles said. “I help them explore their tastes, their hobbies and the things they are passionate about, and how that can help them find their careers.

“My motto for them is that education is something that no one can ever take from you… once you have it, it is yours forever.”

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