Many of us can identify life-changing moments as a result of being in the right place at the right time. For Danairis (Deedee) Melendez, that is exactly how her Moraine Park journey began.
Deedee is a mother of six children and originally came to Wisconsin from Puerto Rico. Her family settled in Milwaukee, and she found employment at a local Optometrist office. To the outside world she led a normal life, but behind closed doors, she was in a vicious cycle of abuse, both mentally and physically. It is apparent that Deedee has a strength that is rare to come by. However, she said that even her strong, independent personality was no match to her abuser.
“I never thought that I would be a victim of abuse,” Deedee said. “I knew my family deserved more. So, I packed up and fled the situation.”
She relocated her family to the West Bend area and welcomed this as an opportunity to have a fresh start.
Deedee started working at Advanced Focus Eyecare in West Bend. On a typical workday, she was helping a woman find glasses when they began to talk about career goals. Deedee mentioned her desire to become a nurse, and her customer just happened to be Kathy Vandemark, a counselor at Moraine Park Technical College in West Bend.
“We hit it off, I liked her immediately,” Deedee said. “Kathy helped walk me through the enrollment process, and ultimately helped me get into my program.”
Deedee not only wants to be a nurse, but she also has aspirations to be a neonatal nurse.
“My oldest son was born at 23-weeks,” she said. “He had a one-percent survival rate, and he just turned 17!”
Her experience in the neonatal unit as a parent is what motivates her to want to serve the parents and babies in need of care.
Both Deedee and Kathy were in the right place at the right time. The result? Deedee will petition to begin her nursing clinical this March and is expected to graduate in December of 2020.
She is also writing a book documenting her journey as a victim of abuse. Her goal is to help others in similar situations find the help that they need to redefine their life.
We look forward to following Deedee’s journey and wish her the best of luck as she continues to pursue her degree.
**A fun side note**
Deedee’s daughter Jayanie age 12, sat in on our interview. I couldn’t help but strike up a conversation with her also. Jayanie is quite possibly the most polite 12-year old I’ve ever spoken with, and she also aspires to be in health care. Her goal is to be a heart surgeon, and her eyes sparkled a bit when she talked about her dream career. I look forward to interviewing Jayanie in the future as a Moraine Park health sciences student.