Angela Jalloh, the director of nursing at The Admiral in Chicago, IL, is always striving to learn more.
Growing up in Sierra Leone, her parents made sure she always attended school because they knew how important an education was for her future.
When her parents died when she was a child, Jalloh’s grandma took over raising her, becoming her “fantasy mom.”
“My grandma made me feel at home,” Jalloh recalls. “She was always there for me growing up.”
After her grandma passed away, Jalloh and her husband, Samson, fled the war-torn country she grew up in to arrive in the U.S. in 2000. While living in a Chicago refugee assistance program, she continued her education and began pursuing nursing.
“[School] was always part of my journey and my life,” Jalloh says. “It was the one thing I could always run to if everything was falling apart. I can always hold on to that.”
She began her career as a certified nursing assistant at CJE Senior Life and was quickly convinced by her supervisors to forge further.
She did just that by working full time, going to school full time and raising her four children – Andre, Andrea, Steven and Isabelle. Eventually, she earned her LPN, RN and BSN credentials.
And she found a place for herself through geriatrics. Caring for seniors gave her a chance to rekindle the love she had for Grandma.
“I feel like I’m giving back in some way,” Jalloh says. “It’s like they’re replacing her in my heart.”
Because of that love, she treats her residents and staff like family. She makes sure that her staff is always educated, just like her family did for her. She ensures they know the little details that make all the difference when providing care, like if someone prefers to take their medicine with coffee instead of water.
One of her strongest relationships is with Nadia Giegler, executive director at The Admiral and an “Angela Jalloh Fan Club” member. Their working relationship is built upon a mutual respect and a great deal of trust in the other person that began from their early days working together.
But what Giegler says stands out the most about Jalloh is how she manages her “huge, around-the-clock set of responsibilities at work, her family life, her educational and vocational pursuits and yet — somehow — she can always make the time to help someone in need.”
Aside from teaching her staff, Jalloh also is a part-time faculty member at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, IL.
When Jalloh – a self-proclaimed workaholic – can pull herself away from the job, she makes sure to give that time to the people who matter the most to her: her family. She lives north of Chicago in Skokie, IL, with her husband, two of their four children and their German Shepherd, Max.
She looks fondly on family vacations and time spent road tripping across the country or lounging at a beach in Florida with a good book and family around her.
Although Jalloh says she can feel guilty about how much time she spends working, she adds it’s all worth it when she can make a new resident feel at home.
“Then you know that, yes, my job is fulfilling,” she says, “because I made a difference in someone else’s life.”
Jalloh’s Resume: Comes to the U.S. with her husband Samson (2000); Begins working at CJE SeniorLife as a certified nursing assistant (2003); Earns her LPN from Dawson Technical School (2006); Becomes an RN after graduating from Oakton Community College (2011); Receives her BSN from University of Phoenix (2015); Joins The Admiral as director of nursing (2017); Wins the Joan Anne McHugh Award for Leadership in Long-Term Services and Supports Nursing from LeadingAge (2018)