Tiffany Mate is one busy lady; in fact we’re surprised she managed to find the time to talk to us!
Born and raised in Las Vegas, Tiffany started her degree program in April 2011, and hopes to graduate in April 2013. She’s delighted to be more than halfway done.
“I’m ready to move on because this program has been kicking my butt. It’s a lot of pressure and a lot of work, especially as a single mom, but I’ve made it halfway and I’ll continue to make it the rest of the way!”
In addition to going to school Monday through Thursday, Tiffany works as a swim teacher on Fridays and Sundays, and as a Respiratory Therapist Technician on Saturdays. She also runs her own slumber party company, providing fun in-home parties for women.
“It’s taken a while to figure out the balance. The first 2 semesters I had a lot of guilt. I was doing a lot more studying than hanging out with my son, and I felt very guilty about that. But now I’ve got the balance right, I’ve got into a routine and everything is going smoothly. I have a huge support network too; my family steps in when I need help with Ryan.”
After high school Tiffany started a Basics for Nursing program at a community college, but her first patient on her initial ‘nurse follow-a-long’ had the misfortune of delivering a still-born baby, which was upsetting for everyone, but something Tiffany found very difficult to handle.
“That was the first patient I’d ever seen and it really turned me off nursing. I got discouraged because I love kids, and it was a lot to deal with. I was persuaded to continue with the classes for a while, but then I took some time off to plan my wedding, and 2 months after we got married, I got pregnant.”
As can happen, other things in life then started to take priority and Tiffany’s nursing education went on the back burner for a few years.
“I did the ‘stay at home mom’ thing for about 18 months, and that was fantastic, I loved it. But then my husband and I separated, and I started working as a manager at a swim school. I met some great friends who were nurses, and they encouraged me to go back to school, to get back into the field.”
Tiffany really wanted to complete her education. She felt that it was important for her to set a good example for her son.
“I wanted to be the first person in my family to finish a degree; my mom, dad and my brother never finished college. I wanted to be able to show my son that it’s important to finish something you’ve started, and that it’s OK to go back to school whatever your age.”
When she was ready to resume her education, Tiffany started to look again at nursing programs. She had a couple of interviews and went to speak with the previous Community College she had attended.
But during those conversations Tiffany soon discovered that she’d fallen behind in the intervening years, and would basically have to start again. That’s when she made the decision to look at other health care programs, especially given her lingering doubts about nursing.
“I did a lot of research; I wanted to make the right decision this time and I looked into a wide variety of programs. Respiratory Care appealed to me because, to a certain degree, you’re your own boss. You get to make decisions on patient care, and work with doctors to agree suitable treatments. That’s something you don’t get with a lot of health care careers. Plus there are no ‘poopy diapers’ to deal with!”
During her research Tiffany looked at 3 different local colleges. It was the ‘fast-track’ approach of Carrington College that appealed to her initially. She also loved the way she was treated and the way she felt when she first came to visit the campus.
“The Carrington campus was clean, and the equipment looked new, and I felt at home. I went to visit another college later that day, and honestly it felt disgusting in comparison, I felt out of place. But the deciding factor was Julie, my Enrollment Services Representative. She spent so much time with me, about 90 minutes, answering my questions and concerns – I wasn’t ‘money’ to her, I didn’t feel like a number as I had at other colleges.”
Once Tiffany made her decision to attend Carrington in the spring of 2011, she was able to start the program within a month. And although she admits that it’s been tough at times, she feels she has come a long way.
The most valuable thing that Tiffany has learned so far, aside from the technical knowledge she’s gained, is to take full advantage of the opportunity. And that’s important advice that she shares with new and prospective students in her position on the Student Council.
“I tell new students to make sure they utilize all the resources open to them, to use the knowledge of their teachers to their advantage, to make a connection with the instructors, and even with the Program Director. And importantly, if you have questions, ask. Don’t wait for someone else to ask the question you have in your mind, as your question may go unanswered.”
As every good student should, Tiffany has her career path mapped out. Once she completes her associate degree at Carrington College she intends to continue her Respiratory Care education with an online bachelor’s degree at DeVry University. Beyond that she hopes to gain more experience working at one of the big hospitals in Las Vegas, preferably in the ER. But her long term goal lies elsewhere…
“I would love to teach; in fact I’d like to come back to Carrington College to teach Respiratory Care. I’ve already warned my Program Director that I intend to be back!”
Thanks for your time Tiffany; good luck with you continuing education and we hope to see you back here as a faculty member in the future!
For comprehensive consumer information on our Respiratory Care program, please visit carrington.edu/degrees/respiratory-care/
Program availability varies by location.