Diversifying the Field: Male Nurses Find Success at Malcolm X


Over the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a bright spotlight on the demand for healthcare professionals – a demand that research shows won’t disappear anytime soon. In fact, according to a recent study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for nurses will actually increase by 7% from 2019 to 2029.

Male nurses will make up an essential part of that growth. Today, men represent 12% of the profession – the highest percentage our country has ever seen – and Malcolm X College is working to prepare some of those males nurses for the career of their dreams, while also helping to diversify the future faces of nursing.

Ernest Billinger

The college’s 2021 salutatorian Ernest Billinger recently told ABC 7 Chicago that it’s “vital patients see themselves reflected in their healthcare professionals” because “it helps break down those walls of hesitation when it comes to healthcare.” As a black man in the profession, Ernest wants to put his future patients at ease and therefore improve both communication and outcomes by providing the perspective of someone who looks like them. He’ll get the opportunity to do just that when he starts as a registered nurse in vascular surgery at Mayo Clinic after graduating from Malcolm X this spring.

Additionally, other MXC alumni are also finding themselves on a path to a promising career in nursing after graduating from the college. Freddy Lucerna, Edison Wang, and Thadeus Banks were all accepted into the highly-competitive nursing program at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) after earning their associate degrees.

Freddy Lucena

Freddy, who came to the U.S. from Caracas, Venezuela, in 2016, started his journey at Truman College by taking ESL classes. As his English improved, he decided to continue his studies at CCC and enroll at Malcolm X. He had already studied medicine for three years in Caracas, so while he was nervous to take all of his classes in English, he knew the science would be familiar and that his love of working with patients would make him a perfect fit for a career in nursing.

Edison Weng

Edison’s journey into the field was inspired by the nurses he saw caring for residents at his grandfather’s nursing home. He wanted to be able to help people and realized that becoming a nurse would allow him to fulfill that ambition. When he learned that Malcolm X was City Colleges’ center of excellence in healthcare education, Edison knew he had found the path that would help him reach his career goals.

Thadeus Banks

Finally, Thadeus, who was feeling unfulfilled working in the construction industry, decided to follow his passion for science and helping others by enrolling at MXC. While finishing up courses for his associate degree last year, he was also working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). When the pandemic hit and his job needed him to put in more hours to help protect our city, Thadeus wasn’t deterred for a minute. His passion for providing care for patients drove him to succeed both on the job and in the classroom.

As the demand for male nurses grows both here in Chicago and across the country, learn more about how you can get started on a path to a career in nursing: www.ccc.edu/nursing.