By Lydia Hansen
For many students, work and college go hand in hand. Before they’ve finished a degree in anything, they’ve started working, gaining on-the-job experience in their career of choice or doing something they’re passionate about.
Melody Edgar, an RCTC student of two years, is passionate about helping others. She started working at Hiawatha Homes in Rochester just over two years ago. As one of many direct support staff working for the Hiawatha Homes organization, she is part of a group of dedicated and caring people who ensure disabled and challenged people have a good place to live.
Her job, she explained, is to create a “clean, safe, and homey environment” for these people to live in. To achieve that, Edgar works an average of 20 hours a week at a group home, helping the elderly people living there with basic necessities. Because of her class schedule, she works mostly morning hours, arriving early in the day to help them get up, bathe and get dressed.
That means on a regular work day, she helps the two individuals she’s assigned to get into wheelchairs, perform exercises to maintain strength, and makes them breakfast before their day program bus takes them to their activities for the day.
“Twice a week,” she said, “I come to work early to ensure I get all the individuals care done for the day so I can leave to go to school.”
By early, that means before her usual arrival time of 5:30 a.m.
But Edgar doesn’t mind this, explaining, “It is nice that I can work in the mornings, as then I am done with work before going to school.”
Learning to work with her class and work schedule has been difficult, but rewarding.
“Working at Hiawatha Homes has helped me gain so much compassion and understanding for those with disabilities.”
Her interest in helping people is what brought Edgar to RCTC. Her plan is to complete two more semesters here before transferring to Winona State University to complete their elementary education program. In the meantime, she’s thankful for her position at Hiawatha Homes, both as a rewarding job and a source of income.
Her husband works there as well, and between the two of them, they’re able to pay Edgar’s tuition and take care of their daughter.