June 5, 2016, Pottstown, Pa.—Daijana Codette has faced many physical and emotional hurdles in her 27 years. Instead of using them to build barriers around herself for her own security, she has turned her strengths toward helping others.
“What is remarkable about me? That’s a very good question,” Codette said in an email interview. “I would say that what’s remarkable is my ability to see that I’m in a bad situation and need to make a change. I experienced a sexual assault, saw death after death, and, to top it all off, I found myself drowning in the sorrows of the mistakes I made in my past. I’m remarkable because I told myself that no matter the circumstances that get thrown my way, I will make it through them and excel.”
Codette lived in New York until moving to Pottstown two years ago and counts moving out of New York as one of the changes she needed to make. The difficulties she experienced with the birth of her child led her to pursue a degree in Health Service Management, which she was awarded during graduation ceremonies at Montgomery County Community College on May 19.
“First things first, my experience with giving birth to my son Jasir was very difficult. I had complications...which made giving birth very tough. After 26 hours of labor and some encouragement from my mother and sister, I had a very healthy baby boy,” Codette said.
The experience of pain became empathy, and she uses it in her job in the registration department of Pottstown Memorial Medical Center.
“I see sick and helpless people every day. I try my hardest to put smiles on the faces of the patients I see even when I know they’re hurting. Though it’s not easy to look at family members when they’re being told a relative has passed, being able to be a comfort to anyone in need is what helps me to get through my shifts,” she said.
Because of work and childcare responsibilities, Codette’s participation in College activities was limited; however, she was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society in spring 2015. She considers the time and advice of College staff as invaluable.
“I spent countless sessions with advisors to ensure that I was on the right track, and each of those times was very important to me,” she said.
“Being a student as well as a mother was extremely hard. There were many times that I needed to get things done for class but my son was sick or had appointments that he needed to get to,” she said. “Of course I knew I would work hard to receive my [degree] in two years, and here I am, two years later and graduating,” she said.
Codette was the recipient of the Grace Mary Spena Memorial Award prior to graduation. The award is given to a graduating student who has demonstrated commitment and excellence to community service. Established through the generosity of former MCCC Health and Wellness Services Director Grace Spena, this award is dedicated to Grace Mary Spena, a devoted mother and a caring and loving friend, who dedicated her life to the service of family church, and community.
“I was very honored by this,” she said. “It takes a lot of dedication to keep achieving, and winning the award just showed me that my hard work has paid off.”
Codette will move on to a four-year college—her top choices are Temple and LaSalle—to get her bachelor’s degree and, ultimately, her master’s degree in human resources.
- Neree Aron-Sando