NOVA Celebrates CNA Grads And First Metallica Scholars Cohort

December 8, 2021

On Friday, December 3rd, NOVA celebrated a fantastic Nurse Aid graduation, which also included the first cohort of Metallica Scholar Nighthawks who have completed their Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) training. All students in the program are recipients of funding from Metallica’s All Within My Hands (AWMH) grant, stewarded by the Association of Community Colleges (AACC); Virginia’s Fast Forward Program, Re-Employing Virginians (G3) or FANTIC.

The graduates represent the full diversity of high achieving NOVA students who have worked to improve their language skills to make a difference in the region’s health sector. NOVA recognizes the hard work of graduates: Tasfia Anika, Angui Berenisse Bohorquez, Lillian Burns, Almaz Gezaw, Amer Jok, Tatiana Yamileth Morales Castillo and Housnati Said Halidy.

The event opened with congratulatory remarks from Keila Louzada, director of student and program support within NOVA Workforce and offered insights from industry leader and a NOVA clinical partner for future programs, Chimwe Mtika, director of recruitment and development at Larmax Homes assisted living and memory care services located in Bethesda, Md. on what the workforce landscape looks like for recent graduates of this program.

Mtika who started her career as a CNA, became a medication aide and was then promoted to assistant manager for one of the assisted living residences, even running all operations for all Larmax Homes at one point. “Being a CNA is a steppingstone,” she said. “In working with Larmax Homes, I continued my education and applied to go back to school to become a registered nurse. Keep pushing and believing in yourself. Congratulations Class of 2021, you did it.” 

The event also featured remarks from recent graduates, like Amer Jok. “I am from South Sudan and have been in the U.S. for ten years, and this CNA class meant a lot to me and my classmates as most of us came from different countries,” said Jok. “I have to appreciate the people of the Workforce team who have worked tirelessly to help us, as well as Metallica, since it helped us with our English class. During the pandemic, most of the people have not been working, and we would not have been here unless this program was possible. I know some of us will be great nurses and doctors, and anything we want to be.”

All Within My Hands (AWMH) is a non-profit, philanthropic organization conceived by the band members and management of Metallica. The foundation is dedicated to creating sustainable communities by supporting workforce education, the fight against hunger and other critical local services.

Funded by AWMH and led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), these programs provide skills and services to students in the Metallica Scholars Initiative (MSI) who are looking to enter a traditional trade or other applied learning program. 

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) was selected from a competitive national field of community colleges to receive a grant to transform the future of students in the region. AWMH directly supports students while also elevating the importance of career and technical education. 

With this funding, NOVA has provided resources for students who are pursuing a career in healthcare. Specifically, this program supports non-native English-speaking students starting their career in NOVA's Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program. Through the generous support of AWMH, NOVA has created a pathway to access additional support services to help students achieve their career goals and earn an entry-level credential that will lead to an in-demand job in the high-growth healthcare industry.


FastForward is a short-term workforce training program to train Virginians for industry credentials and certifications for the most in-demand jobs across the Commonwealth.

FastForward Financial Aid for Noncredit Training leading to Industry Credentials (FANTIC) provides funding for students demonstrating financial need who desire to enroll in an approved workforce training program leading to the attainment of an industry-recognized credential or licensure and are not eligible for other funding grants or financial assistance.

‘Get Skilled, Get a Job, Get Ahead’ (G3) is a program through the Commonwealth of Virginia that offers scholarships that cover tuition and fees for individuals who qualify for state financial aid, allowing students to gain the skills they need for a good career in their community without worrying about costs.

Re-employing Virginians (REV) is a one-time education grants to cover the tuition and fees of an eligible training program or a semester of classes.

For questions about NOVA Workforce programming, please contact Keila Louzada, director of NOVA Workforce at For questions about language programming within NOVA Workforce, please contact Cynthia Hatch, associate director of business, ESL, and TESOL Programs at For all media related questions, please contact Hoang Nguyen, public information office at


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