RALEIGH, N.C. — When Carmen Huyser entered one of Urban Ministries crisis centers in Raleigh, she never dreamed she would become a student in a medical administrative assistant class. 

“When I came to the Helen Wright Center, I was just looking for help with assistance in getting a house and everything," Huyser said. "I didn’t realize they actually had job programs so it was very shocking."

Typically women stay around 30 days with a maximum of 90 days. 

However, when Covid hit, the staff decided to give the women who needed to now stay longer something life-changing to do during their stay. 

The crisis center secured a $123,000 grant from the state and partnered with ProTrain to hold the classes.  

“We were able to enroll 70 women into educational programs where they will receive certification in classes such as pharmacy tech, medical administrative assistant, living wage jobs," said Lisa Jones, Director of Crisis Programs with Urban Ministries of Wake County.

Huyser and her classmates meet in their virtual classrooms twice a week, with at least 6 to 8 hours of homework

The classes are an investment in the women, giving them the tools to succeed once they leave.

"This is an opportunity to change their lives, to reduce the recidivism rate of homelessness," Jones said. 

Huyser never thought this would be her path, but she’s grateful and hopeful that she can be an inspiration to others. 

“Especially if you are in a spot where you are struggling,  keep an open mind about what it is you can and can’t do and you will amaze yourself.”

The first graduates of the program are slated to graduate in January.