Valerie Staples is ready to go back to college.

After three years as a cell phone sales consultant, first for Verizon and now for AT&T, the 22-year-old Lewiston High School grad has decided to become a nurse. Working in sales is fine — she likes the people and feels the job is secure — but she believes nursing would make her most happy.

“I was thinking about it for a while.

believes nursing would make her most happy.

“I was thinking about it for a while.Then I was like, ‘You know what? That’s really what I want to do. I want to be around people and want to take care of people,’” she said.

Four years ago, Staples (formerly Valerie Elie) started her freshman year at Central Maine Community College in Auburn. Her major: early childhood education.

But Verizon offered her a job, a career. She left school.

Two-and-a-half years later, her enthusiasm for the work waned.

“It definitely gave me time to think and say, ‘You know, I really do need a college education and to do what I want to do for the rest of my life,’” she said.

Verizon had offered to pay for college courses that were connected to her field, but Staples’ hours weren’t flexible and she had no opportunity to return to the classroom. When the company started laying off workers, she let them know she’d be willing to go.

A few months ago, Staples got a new job at AT&T. She likes it there — the people are nice and the hours are more flexible — but she doesn’t see herself staying in sales for good.

“My mom’s a nurse and she went back to school while I was in high school,” Staples said. “She graduated in ‘04, a year before I graduated high school, and she loves her job. And I see flexible hours and you get to work with people, and I like working with people. I don’t like sitting behind a desk or anything like that.”

Staples had hoped to start classes at CMCC this summer, but none of the offered courses would count toward her major. So she’s planning to sign up for the following semester.

“August it is,” she said.

This is one of a several part series. To read the rest of the stories, click here.

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