Ibrahim Yillah, 53, earned valedictorian honors when he completed his licensed vocational nurse training at NCTC in August 2019, and now works as a LVN in a critical/intensive care unit with Wise Health System in Decatur.
As a young man, Yillah was interested in training as a pharmacist in his home country of Sierra Leone in West Africa, but says a violent civil war there in the 1990s interfered with his life on all fronts. He tells harrowing tales of fleeing his country and spending a decade in a refugee camp in Gambia while working in a nearby village to support his young family.
Eventually, he was allowed to migrate to Pennsylvania in 2002, followed four years later by his wife, and then, after another four years, his eldest son. The family retains the heartbreak of separation, with three of his children not able to come to America yet, but Yillah puts an emphasis on the positive, noting that his first son’s academic successes earned him a math scholarship to Texas Tech University, which brought Yillah and his wife to North Texas as well.
Yillah has a long history of working hard to support his family in Africa, and that didn’t change when he enrolled in the LVN program and worked nights, driving for Uber. He speaks with gratitude of his NCTC experience and the mentoring and financial aid he received through Catholic Charities’ vocational program.
“Basically, NCTC became my family,” he says. “So many people supported me every step of the way.”
For all the hardships in his past, Yillah says he is excited about his new vocation and optimistic about more successes coming his way.
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