Getting to save a life was an early dream of Chenelle McQueen’s that is being fulfilled each and every day when she reports for work as an EMT worker. McQueen grew up in Brooklyn, where she loved playing with nurse and doctor kits. However, nothing fueled her dream more than the loss of various family members in a short period of time during high school. The hardest death to deal with was her grandparents because they lived so far away in the West Indies.

She decided back then that she wanted to take care of people, especially her family members. Right after high school, she went to college at Mount Saint Mary, but upon completion, she transferred and moved to Georgia. Her school in Georgia struggled with accreditation while McQueen had trouble finding health care, causing her trip to Lawrenceville, Ga., to be cut short and leading her to move back to New York, where her daughter lived. For a few years, McQueen continued to work at various health care facilities as a mental health assistant. One day on her way to work in 2010, she got into a bad car accident. She suffered from blood to the brain, amnesia and memory loss. She was in the hospital for weeks, but with a 5-year-old daughter at the time, “I could not let that stop me,” said McQueen.

“My memory came back slowly, but it came back,” she recounts of the time she stayed in the hospital. Not being able to do for herself was not in her character. She decided on a career change, her job suddenly not seeming fulfilling enough. Within weeks, she started researching different EMT programs, and the first she stumbled on was in the Bronx. Being a Brooklyn native, McQueen got lost a couple of times just to find out that the building was being renovated. She traveled back home, feeling discouraged, but that very night, she found the Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps (BSVAC) EMT program. Since then, she has moved past the broad EMS test and earlier this year moved on to become an EMT, which allows her to answer emergency calls, transport patients and work with obese patients.

Aiding people and saving lives, McQueen is living her dream.