Yuvencia Masaki, her daughter and triplet sons pursue careers in health care.
Originally from Nairobi, the capital of Kenya and popularly known as the “Green City in the Sun,” Yuvencia Masaki, 48, of Farmington, is the matriarch of a family with a commanding aptitude for care giving.
Masaki, nicknamed “Margaret,” is enrolled in the Practical Nursing program at Dakota County Technical College and will graduate with her diploma in the fall of 2008. She works on call as a nursing assistant at Augustana Health Care Center while attending school.
“I like caring for people,” Masaki said. “When someone is feeling bad and you make them feel better, then you feel special. You feel like you have achieved something important.”
Masaki’s triplet sons, Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego, 18, all obtained certificates from the college’s Nursing Assistant/Home Health Aide program.
Masaki’s daughter, Faith, 23, took the Trained Medication Aide course at DCTC and is currently studying to become a registered nurse at an area community college. In the long term, Faith Masaki sees herself training to be a physician’s assistant, an advanced clinician licensed to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician.
Yuvencia Masaki related that her family has a long history of practicing medicine in Kenya. At the moment, two family members in Nairobi are medical doctors and two are veterinarians. Her brother, Robert, is one of the MDs—and he frequently e-mails and phones the triplets with advice about their studies and career choices.
Masaki named her triplets after the Biblical trio who defied King Nebuchadnezzar and survived a walk through a fiery furnace. All three are working part-time as nursing assistants. Each views further education as the way to advance their careers in medicine.
Abednego Masaki aims to attend the University of Minnesota with plans to become a medical doctor—specifically a pediatrician. Also set on the U of M, Shadrack wishes to serve his community as pharmacist. Meshack is looking ahead to a career as an ultrasound sonographer.
Bob “Daniel” Masaki, the elder brother and stateside mentor of the triplets, is making plans to enroll in the Nanoscience Technology program at DCTC. Medicine is one field where nanotechnology is already making a tremendous impact.
“We really like helping people,” said Yuvencia Masaki, who plans on following her daughter’s footsteps into registered nursing. “It’s in our blood.”
The immediate Masaki family, William, the father, Yuvencia, Bob, Faith and the triplets were all born in Kenya. In 1999, the parents ventured to the United States, entrusting their children to relatives until they found their footing in a new land.
“We missed our children very much,” Masaki said. “I am so grateful for my family. My husband, William, is such a hard worker and a great help to me. Everyone in my family stands behind me and keeps me going when school gets stressful.”
DiAnn Zimmerman, a practical nursing instructor and director of the PN program at DCTC, noted that Masaki is a quiet student with the dedication needed to succeed in her chosen career.
“I wish Yuvencia well as she moves forward toward graduating as a practical nurse,” Zimmerman said. “I believe that she will do her best to provide nursing care with a gentle style.”
Zimmerman stated that the Practical Nursing program affords an environment where students can readily develop the knowledge, skills and attitude essential for success as a licensed practical nurse.
“It is vital that we train capable nurses,” she said. “Graduates of our program are prepared to provide quality care for patients and their families in a safe and compassionate manner.”
“The instructors in the PN program are really supportive and encouraging” Masaki added. “They are hard on us, but they make sure that we know what we need to do.”
“When someone is feeling bad and you make them feel better, then you feel special. You feel like you have achieved something important.”
Brenda Arneson, the coordinator and primary instructor of the Nursing Assistant/Home Health Aide program, remembers Shadrack, Abednego and Meshack as good students. “I enjoyed having them in my classroom,” she said. “Yuvencia told me that triplets are rare in Kenya and their birth was featured in newspapers across the country.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistic reports that overall employment of nursing assistants and home health aides is projected to grow 28 percent through 2016, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations. The BLS also states that employment opportunities will be excellent, which translates as more job openings than job seekers.
According to ISEEK, Minnesota’s gateway to education and employment, the median hourly wage is $12.97 for nursing assistants in the state—with the top earners making nearly $17 per hour.
ISEEK reports that licensed practical nurses in Minnesota average $18.65 per hour—with the top earners making more than $23.50 per hour. ISEEK also reports that nearly 1 million nurses—both LPNs and RNs—will be needed in the U.S. by the year 2010.
The BLS predicts that job growth for licensed practical nurses will increase faster than average through 2016. The median annual wage for LPNs in the U.S. stands at $36,550—with the top percentile making more than $50,500 per year.