Taking Education into the Community

Article excerpt

Byline: Katharin Czink Daily Herald Correspondent

When Hampshire resident Jackie Charles received a Partners in Peace award from the Community Crisis Center in Elgin, she couldn't help but look back on her 26-year career.

"The award made me think of all I have done," Charles admits. "It's the biggest recognition I've had other than my students saying 'thank you.' "

The Elgin Community College professor of nursing was honored for her work with a program that provides student nurses to the Crisis Center, a safe haven for victims of domestic violence.

Blessed with a pioneering spirit, Charles, it seems, always has been one step ahead of her game.

Long before the field of nursing embraced community-based education, Charles was approaching psychiatric institutions and outpatient clinics convincing them to take a look at her students.

Community-based education is an initiative that encourages student nurses to serve at treatment sites where they can gain first-hand experience interacting with patients.

Charles' persistence paid off, and now she sends students to a variety of sites where they work five-week rotations and earn credit toward their degrees.

Charles' teaching career began in 1978. After earning a masters of science degree in nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Charles accepted a faculty position at ECC. Shortly after arriving there, Charles listened, along with her students, to a presentation delivered by staff from the fledgling Crisis Center.

"I remember them showing a film of men talking about their rights to abuse their partners," Charles said, shuddering with the memory.

"The one thing I left there with was (the thought) 'No one deserves to be hit.' "

The impact the presentation had on Charles, herself no stranger to domestic violence, was profound.

"I grew up in a dysfunctional, angry, violent home," Charles confessed. Those past experiences, she now believes, helped spark her interest in the Crisis Center.

"I have a fascination with the Crisis Center, donating clothing and my time when I can," she says. "Women's problems are a passion for me. …