Neesha Earles lost her job due to COVID-19 but not her perspective.

She has held multiple positions as a nursing aide but longed for a career as a nurse, a goal she shared with Cincinnati Works financial coach Nina Vogt. The pandemic gave Earles time to think, and Vogt provided a sounding board. Earles decided to follow her passion and pursue a degree in nursing.

“It won’t be just a job,” she said. “It’s something I know I will be happy to do every day.”

Neesha Earles and her daughter

Earles and Vogt discussed a budget, and Earles quickly set about making it work. She took a temporary job as a temperature-taker to save money throughout the summer, then enrolled full-time at Hondros College of Nursing. She lined up her classes to coincide with her 3-year-old daughter’s preschool schedule.

“Neesha is taking full advantage of all the resources available to her during this time,” Vogt said, “and she is leaving no stone unturned.”

Earles is on track to graduate in September 2021. She will be the first person in her family to earn a degree.

“I am very determined because I’ve been through so much,” she said. “Now I am at peace with myself. I know what I want for myself and my daughter. That is my main priority.”

Earles has been a Cincinnati Works Member since 2013 but re-engaged this summer thanks to a partnership between Cincinnati Works and Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), which manages the housing complex where Earles and her daughter live.

Through the partnership, Vogt provides financial coaching to residents and oversees POAH’s Family Self-Sufficiency program, which allows low-income families to save money without losing rental assistance or other benefits.

Earles was drawn to the program because she wants to save for a house. She improved her credit score by 76 points in the first three months of working with Vogt. Having a nursing degree – and the career options that will open up because of it – will make home-ownership even more attainable.

“She has a love of learning, perseverance and zest,” Vogt said. “We discussed some barriers, but really Neesha worked through them all on her own. … She never gave up and always only spoke positively about how she will find another way.”

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