By Shayla Reaves

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s a goal she wasn’t sure she’d complete, but Latasha Atkins Lee didn’t give up. With time, patience, and determination, she opened a school this year helping Twin Cities students start nursing careers.

Lee, a registered nurse, founded the Healthy Helpful Insight Healthcare Institute in Crystal. The certified nursing assistant school teaches students the basic skills for patient care and keeps alive a dream that started with Lee’s sister.

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In 1999, Lee’s sister Subrina Mays got sick with lupus. She lived for 10 years after that diagnosis, but passed away in 2009.

“While she was in the hospital, she shared with me that she really wanted to make sure that I continued the goal that we had,” said Lee.

Latasha Atkins Lee (Credit: CBS)

“She was like ‘is you really have to do this,’ she was like ‘I don’t think I’m going to be here,’ and that was a secret that I kept from my entire family,” Lee added.

The pair discussed starting a certified nursing assistant school to increase diversity in the field. Growing up, a heart condition required a lot of care for Lee, who was born with a ventricular septal defect. Lee regularly visited the cardiologist until she was 18.

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“My nurses were always so nice, even though they were white, I still appreciated them but I always wondered why aren’t any of them looking like me?” said Lee.

Now, more than 10 years after losing her sister, Lee is standing in the dream the two began, creating a space for students to learn.

“Every tactic that I’ve learned during this class has been something that I’ve taken with me back to work,” said CNA Student Kate Goodman.

“I know that I am going to create a legacy and create some generational wealth for my family,” added Lee. “And I know that my sister, even though I can’t see her, I know she is in heaven and she’s very ecstatic.”

Lee’s younger sister graduated from an LPN program last month. Currently, Lee is allowed to have three students at the school. She will be able to add more after the state’s site visit, which is coming up soon.

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For more information on the school, click here.

Shayla Reaves