CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — For Penn State Lehigh Valley student Felicia Shaner, the road has not always been easy. She was only 24 when she found herself homeless with a toddler and an infant. Now, not only do Shaner and her daughters have a home, they are thriving and gearing up to be featured on an NBC “Today" show segment on Friday, May 7.
Shaner always knew she wanted to be a nurse, and after much research chose the 18-month Practical Nursing program at Penn State Lehigh Valley (PSU-LV). The campus appealed to her because she said she was able to attend class at night and on the weekend while continuing to work part-time and care for her two young children.
However, shortly after being accepted into the PSU-LV program, Shaner found herself homeless with nowhere to turn. She contacted the Third Street Alliance in Easton for help and after spending a few months there, Shaner and her daughters moved into the Sixth Street Shelter’s Ferry Apartments.
“Starting the program while living in the shelter was not easy, but my kids were my motivation to complete the program and stay focused on the end result, which was a better life for my daughters,” Shaner said.
Heather Clark, program director for the Penn State Lehigh Valley Practical Nursing program, said she never would have known about Shaner’s situation until someone at the Sixth Street Shelter, which oversees its residents' finances, called to confirm Shaner needed money to make up a clinical class.
“She never once complained or mentioned her situation,” Clark said of Shaner. “The evening classes and every-other weekend clinicals are what attracts students, like single moms, to our program,” Clark said. “Our students can work full time. That’s how this program got started, to help those in that situation.”
Today, Shaner and her daughters reside in a duplex in Easton, with help from Section 8, a federal program that offers low-income housing. Although Section 8 is optional for her at this point, she intends to stay on it until she saves enough to purchase her own home within the next few years. She currently works in the COVID-19 unit at a rehabilitation center in the Lehigh Valley and plans to go back to school to become a registered nurse.
To watch Shaner’s story, tune into "The Today Show" on NBC at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 7. For more information on the Practical Nursing program at PSU-LV, contact Heather Clark at 610-285-5259 or visit the Practical Nursing website.