From the time she was a little girl, Shay Bundren knew she wanted to help people.
While still in high school, Shay joined one of her friends from church in helping the homeless, serving food at various shelters throughout Indiana. Little did she know this would lead her down the path of becoming a nurse.
Her friend, Mike Woods, recommended CarDon, where he works in the human resources department. He told her about the Achieve Your Degree (AYD) program, a statewide collaboration between Ivy Tech campuses and organizations like CarDon that offers free or low-cost tuition to employees through tuition reimbursement or financial support.
Shay was eager to jump into the field of nursing. So just a week after she graduated from Decatur Central High School, she entered Ivy Tech Community College’s Associate Accelerated Program (ASAP), which allows high school graduates to earn an associate’s degree in 11 months.
After earning her certified nursing assistant certification (CNA), Shay started working at Hamilton Trace in the early summer of 2018.
She works at the community two days a week, keeping residents “healthy and happy.” Shay assists them with getting ready for the day, selecting their meals, etc. Her favorite part of the job is getting to know them on a personal level.
“Talking to the residents and learning about their lives makes my day,” she said. “They have such interesting stories and experiences. I always find myself getting close to residents because I have a big heart. They make me come to work with a smile on my face.”
The residents remind Shay of her grandparents, and she feels a kindred connection to them. She recalls one patient leaving an indelible impact on her and changing the way she looks at life.
“She seemed grumpy on the surface, but if you took the time to actually listen and ask questions about her life and past, you could see that she was a really respectable, caring and wise woman,” Shay said. “She told me about when she used to make dinner for her husband and how he started going out and picking up meals for them when she couldn’t move around the kitchen anymore. That made me appreciate the little things in life a lot more.”
Because she wants to meet more residents and hear more stories, Shay is currently pursuing a registered nursing degree from Ivy Tech. She’s grateful to CarDon and Hamilton Trace for pushing her forward in the field she’s wanted to enter ever since she can remember.