“Mr. Doe” seemed pretty mellow when Jessica Ogaz popped into his room recently to take his vitals.
“OK, buddy, let’s see how you’re doing with your BP,” she said, as fitted the blood pressure cuff over her patient’s arm.
She pronounced the reading normal for the medical mannequin she calls on daily for her courses in nursing at the Monongalia County Technical Education Center.
Ogaz is studying to be a licensed practical nurse.
Her eyes crinkled as a grin broke out from behind her KN95 face mask.
Mr. Doe’s heart rate and blood pressure might be stable, she said. However, her readings in both those clinical categories were still elevated on this busy morning last week at the center on Mississippi Street, she admitted.
That’s because Ogaz was still processing the unexpected money that came her way through the federal pocketbook-loosening brought on by the pandemic.
Officially, the grant is from the Higher Education Fund HEERF II Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Act – or, CRRSAA, as it is known by its bureaucratic abbreviation.
Tech center director Greg Dausch said he can abbreviate all that down to one word, even: Relief.
The total outlay came in at $46,841 and Ogaz was among its beneficiaries.
Dausch, a former Morgantown High teacher and administrator who has only been in his office at the tech center for the past few months, found out about it a week before deadline.
“It was, ‘Here we go,’ ” he said. “We did a lot of work, really fast, to get everything in.”
The director divided the dollars equally among adult learners in all Pell Grant-eligible programs, including Ogaz and her 50 classmates in the nursing program.
Students received their checks last week.
“People here are working hard,” Dausch said, “so we’re gonna work hard to do everything we can for them.”
For Ogaz, the check couldn’t have come at a better time, she said.
She and her husband are the parents of three children, ages 4, 2 and three months old, respectively.
Ogaz is a Webster County native and her husband hails from Nashville. They’re mulling a move to his hometown after she completes her studies.
Right now, she said, things boil down to one word in her household: Budget.
“This helps so much,” said Ogaz, who also adds that she pre-ordained for her profession.
Her mother works as a nurse, at hospitals and clinics around Braxton County and Summersville.
After earning a four-year degree in health promotion from WVU, Ogaz kept hearing the call to nursing.
More often than not, her classmates present with the same symptoms.
Such as Laneshia Gunter, who spent a few years living and working in Las Vegas before returning to her hometown of Fairmont – where she’s been known to work 16-hour days as a certified nursing assistant on top of her training at MTEC.
“A lot of us do struggle,” she said. “That’s why we appreciate the check so much.”