#CYProud: Jenell Edwards, Psychiatric Technology

Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we want all of our students to know we are on this educational journey with them and are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2022.

Jenell Edwards had always felt a pull to be a role model, whether as the oldest of four siblings or as the mother to three children. Because of her family responsibilities, however, she’d delayed her education and career goals. But the vision of helping others in a healthcare field remained, and Jenell decided to push herself and actively pursue her goals. She came to Cypress for the Psychiatric Technology program and left with a career, earning straight As, places on the Dean’s and President’s lists, and an award as the most exceptional student in the Psychiatric Technology program along the way, as always, like a true role model.

A woman in a graduation cap and gown stands in front of the Cypress College Health Science building.

Please tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story ?

I was born in El Centro but grew up in Orange County and then partially in the Inland Empire. I am a wife and a mother to three beautiful kids. Growing up as the oldest and only girl out of three boys really put pressure on me. I knew I had to set the example not only for my siblings but for my children as well.

Becoming a parent at a young age was not an easy route. In fact, there were many obstacles and challenges I faced, such as becoming a single parent at one point of my life with two jobs while still trying to juggle school. Due to financial circumstances, I put my college career on hold to work more frequently, which set me back and delayed my education. At one point, I even questioned myself how I would ever be able to accomplish my goal. I knew then I had to do something different for me to be successful in life and leave a legacy for others including my family.

Although I felt like giving up many times, I always had a vision of myself serving the community in the healthcare field. I was determined to do whatever it took to accomplish my goals, which I did, but it was not easy. I had to remind myself that as a woman of faith, there’s nothing God will give me that I can’t handle.

Fast forward, 10 years later I decided to go back to school to continue my education and so here I am today by the grace of God. Some of my interests are spending quality time with family and my dog, Ginger. I am very family-oriented, so being around family and those who are supportive is very important. I also love to take Zumba classes. I enjoy dancing so I always look forward to doing Zumba. It also helps me get away from my usual routine, and just de-stress a bit.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am passionate about helping others and making a difference in people’s lives. I have always been someone who’s looked out for others in one way or another. Being an advocate for others rather than just myself brings great joy to me knowing I can be of help and make a positive impact.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

I chose Cypress College because it offers many programs that other schools don’t have. When I first transferred from Fullerton College to Cypress College, it was convenient for me. I have moved farther away, and although I have a closer college to my residence, I am determined to continue my education at Cypress College. I committed to a 35-mile commute because of the college’s great resources and good support teams. Cypress College just feels like home for me.

What have you been involved in (programs, clubs, events, jobs, other opportunities, etc.) at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

I became part of EOPS, which I am very grateful for. I had great counselors who provided me with lots of resources and guided me throughout my Cypress College journey. In fact, it was through Leena, an EOPS counselor, that I first found out about the Psychiatric Technology program. I knew then that I was in good hands and now here I am today as a new Psychiatric Technician graduate.

A smiling woman poses in college graduation regalia while posing in front of the Cypress College campanile.

Share a memorable event or experience while you’ve been a Cypress College student.

A memorable event was during my last semester in the program. It was my first day of clinicals at Metropolitan State Hospital. I was placed in the Psych Unit. When I first walked in, I literally felt like I was part of that Netflix show called 60 Days In. I felt as though I was experiencing fight or flight adrenaline.

It was a bit scary working with a different type of population. As I walked into the unit, it was as if I were being watched the whole time by the patients. They kept looking at me and one person began to pace near me. It was just something I hadn’t experienced before. I had to overcome that fear, however, and managed to break out of my shell and utilize all the tactics and techniques learned in class and apply them out in the field. Once I did that, I was able to build relationships with the clients and felt more at ease.

Who are the faculty and staff (in your major, an academic or other support program, etc.) who have helped you get where you are today?

I am blessed to have the staff and faculty members who helped me to succeed and get to where I am. This includes Professor Jaime Ramos and the rest of the faculty from the Psychiatric Technology program. I always knew that I could count on Professor Ramos for support. I recall venting to him about a situation with one of my brothers, who was dealing with substance abuse and mental health. During that time, I felt like I had a lot going on at home and wanted to give up, just seemed so overwhelmed. After speaking with him, though, he really gave me motivation to continue my education and not to give up. I needed that extra push, and I am glad I made the decision I took because I was able to complete the Psychiatric Technology program, even with the unexpected circumstances that challenged me.

I am also blessed to have had Leena as my EOPS counselor because without her I wouldn’t have known about the Psychiatric Technician Program. She made the transition processes smooth by providing me with the resources and tools need to get to where I’m at now. I know that I can reach out to her for any questions or concerns.

How has Cypress College supported you throughout your time at the college?

Cypress College has supported me throughout my time at Cypress College by providing me with a variety of support teams and programs. They provided special accommodations for me by DSS. Cypress College provided me with a laptop to use, a hotspot for internet access, and mentoring services or tutoring.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

I will be working as a Psychiatric Technician helping those in need with mental health. I want to give back to the community. It’s important to bring awareness on mental health. There is a lot of stigma when it comes to mental health, therefore I strongly believe that bringing awareness about it and helping others can make a big difference in someone’s life.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

I plan to continue to work and continue going to school to further my education as I aspire to become a Nurse Practitioner one day and leave a legacy.

What are you most proud of?

I am proud of receiving four different degrees with honors. It was even more challenging having to go virtual during the pandemic. But the fact that I was able to accomplish all of that – including receiving an award as the most exceptional student in the Psychiatric Technology program, maintaining straight As throughout the entire program, being on the Dean’s and President’s list for high academics – and still play the roles of parent and  wife makes me really proud. It’s such a good feeling knowing my hard work is paying off. I’d like for my children to acknowledge that all my effort and all the sacrifices were well worth it. I encourage them to do the same.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

Never give up! It’s never too late to go back to school to either continue or further your education. Knowledge is power… So don’t let anyone define who you are. Therefore, develop good study habits and time management and you shall be good to go!

Is there anyone in particular you’d like to thank?

I would like to thank my family. Thank you for having patience for me, especially when I had stressful days with schoolwork or testing. It was like a roller coaster at home sometimes but I’m thankful that they were there for me to support me the whole time because they believed in me. I’d like to thank Lena from EOPS for always helping me when I had questions or concerns about my academic pathway. She guided me into the right direction for me to get to where I’m at today. I would also like to thank my mentors who supported me and gave me that extra push to accomplish my goals. Thanks to the director of the Psych Tech program (Jaime Ramos) all the staff and faculty members of the Psych Tech program who believed in me. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the tremendous support from all of you. Thank you again.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I would encourage everyone to utilize their time wisely. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in class. Utilize the resources that are provided to help you become successful and it will all pay off. Set your mind on a goal. Trust the process. And target that goal!