C3 Fellow Profile: Kristine Girbe

The C3 Fellows program has placed over 225 C3 Fellows students in field placements, a milestone for the program. Fellows earn on average nearly $5 more per hour than students not in the program. Field placements are specific to the health care career interest of Fellows and connect them with CCAP partner employers in the health care field. 

Throughout her childhood on a dairy farm in northeastern Latvia, Kristine Girbe always had the ambition to pursue higher education outside of her rural community. Girbe was a senior in high school when the 2008 financial crisis hit Latvia. It became harder to access university education within the country, and Girbe turned her focus to higher education abroad. Her destination: the Twin Cities.

Thanks to support from an aunt who had relocated to Minnesota and her family back home, Girbe came to the Twin Cities to pursue college education.

In her first year as a nursing student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), Girbe applied and was accepted to the Central Corridor College Fellow (C3 Fellows) program.

The C3 Fellows program connects college students to healthcare providers along the Metro Green Line to gain entry-level employment and necessary experience to be successful health care professionals.  The program is one step in the Partnership’s laddering approach to career development for Central Corridor zip code residents. To date, partners have collectively increased the percentage of their employees who are residents of the Central Corridor by over 5%.

A Health Care Calling

It was during her first semester at MCTC in a hands-on anatomy and physiology lab entitled “pig anatomy” that Girbe decided that health care was right for her.

“The labs inspired me,” Girbe said.“Immediately, I wanted to figure out how all of this related to humans.”

An Entry Level Job at the UMN Medical Center

As an international student at MCTC, Girbe struggled to make professional connections within the health care field.  Meeting C3 Fellows Program Director Brian Mogren, however, changed everything.

Girbe met Mogren at one of the C3 Fellows program’s free CPR training sessions for MCTC students. After learning Girbe’s story, Mogren connected her with professionals in the human resources department of the University of Minnesota Medical Center.  These professionals and Mogren helped Girbe boost her resume, enhance her interview skills, and successfully land an entry-level position in the healthcare field as a floating custodian for the University of Minnesota Medical Center. 

Girbe’s entry-level position offered a window into the behind-the-scenes workings of a large and diverse health care institution.  Girbe regularly cleaned surgical instruments after procedures such as bone marrow transplants. She frequently enjoyed interacting with patients and appreciated the supportive work environment fostered by nurses and doctors on the surgery teams.  

“Everyone was so friendly and encouraging.  I enjoyed the experience very much,”Girbe reflected.“Being [at the Medical Center] helped me see my future.  I could see myself working in a hospital helping people.”

Today Girbe holds an Associate’s Degree in nursing from MCTC, anticipates receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Metropolitan State University in May 2017, and plans to study a PhD in physical therapy and work in a rehabilitation center with patients on post-accident remobilization.

“I want to help people manage their new lives,”Girbe said.

Girbe credits the C3 Fellows program with providing much of the support and guidance she needed to make her academic goals in a new country a reality.