Health Care Administration (HCA) student Rochelle Holman (Boyl) enrolled at the Carrington College California Citrus Heights campus after a trip to the grocery store. Rochelle, a recently divorced mother of five in her early 40s, has an inspirational story of faith, determination and perseverance.
Thanks for sharing Rochelle; first tell us about this life changing trip for groceries…
One day in April I went to the store and I saw all these people coming out of a building, all in the same uniform. I thought maybe it was a nursing facility or something. Then I noticed the Carrington sign. This one lady was standing outside, waiting for a ride I guess, so I asked her about the college. She was a student; we talked for a few minutes and she gave me her advisor’s number. She told me I should give her a call; well you know how people usually say “Sure, I’ll give them a call…” and never do, well that day when we got back to the car I looked at my daughter and said “You know what… I’m going to call her right now.”
So you called right there from the parking lot?
I did; I spoke with Cris, an Enrollment Services Advisor. I told her that I was interested in finding out more about the school and that we should try to schedule a meeting. But as I shared a little of my personal situation, I started to cry. Cris said “Do you have a moment to come in this afternoon? I can move things around.” I told her that I was still sat in my car in front of the building. She said “You know what, come on in right now.”
Why Health Care Administration?
Cris and I talked and we instantaneously made a connection. She explained the programs available at the Citrus Heights campus; we talked about Medical Billing & Coding, Dental Assisting, Medical Assisting, Veterinary Technology and all the other programs. But as soon as she mentioned HCA and explained it, that was it for me. It sounded like the theory behind all the practical stuff I’d been doing when I was working. She gave me all the options but I told her I was firm about Health Care Administration.
So you have a history in health care?
I do have a health care background; I’d previously worked in Medical Billing & Coding for Group Health Cooperative, based in Seattle, WA. I then took a lot of years off to be a mom.
You enrolled that same day then?
I did. I told Cris that I was a little apprehensive because I have no income and no job. But she had me sit down with a Student Finance Advisor to learn about my options; for me it worked out just fine. I got the level of loans and grants that I needed. That was mid April; I started class about a week later.
Why did you decide that now, aged 40, was the time to go back to school?
I moved to the Sacramento area from northern California in October last year. I had an ex-husband who would not let me go to school; we lived way out in the country. I was 2½ hrs away from civilization. I was a mom of five, I home schooled the kids. We had our own business and that sustained us. But I always wanted to learn more, and now I’m in a position where I don’t have anybody telling me ‘no’ or discouraging me. As I’ve recently gone through this change in my marital status, I had to get back to the workforce to support my children. I do have an Associate of Arts degree in Humanities, but I needed more to compete today. I have five babies that are looking at me to support them financially. And I will. And I pray that my situation will inspire a lot of people that if I can change my life, they can too.
So a couple of months on, have you made the right decision?
This program has just been so wonderful for me. I love it here. My teacher, Mrs. Kath Tobin, is just awesome; we’ve got a great relationship; she understands how I learn and allows me to record her lectures. I’m here at the school for two, three, or four hours after class studying. You know how it is with five kids, I can’t really study when I get home. Some people could get discouraged in my situation. Right now I am homeless; my children and I stay in one room. I can’t pay rent, so these people are really helping me out. Anything could defeat me, but I choose, with the grace of God, to go forward and let nothing stop me. I have straight A’s in my classes, and I had perfect attendance last term. And if it wasn’t for my daughter’s 8th Grade Graduation, I would have perfect attendance again this term. I’m on the President’s List and I feel really good; I’m now a Mentor for other students here at the college helping other students maintain their stability and their grades.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned on the program?
Human anatomy. I’m learning all kinds of things about the body; I’m like “Oh that works because of that and that.” I really feel the adrenaline go through me when I’m learning this stuff – sometimes I feel like I could be a doctor learning all this kinds of stuff! I actually enjoy it and understand it.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about yourself on the program?
That “I can” and to not doubt myself. I second-guess myself a lot; my teacher says that every time I second-guess myself I get things wrong! I know that I can achieve; if I really want something, I can get it.
What’s the biggest thing you wanted to change about yourself during the program?
To believe in myself. Being in this program, being a mentor, getting good grades. I’m proving to myself that I’m important, I’m special. It’s shown me that there’s no mountain too high for me to climb. It’s rebuilding my confidence in myself.
Tell me three things you wish you’d known about the program when you started?
- I didn’t know I was going to like it so much – that’s first and foremost. I didn’t know I was going to be so consumed by it – and not in a bad way when I say consumed.
- I didn’t know that this program would change me. I’ve started to change my vocabulary when I’m talking to my children, and when I compare back to this time last year, I’m growing.
- I think I underestimated the amount of work involved; but I’ve accepted and embraced it and I’ve figured out a learning pattern that works for me. It can be overwhelming to get the balance right, especially when you have more than one child at home.
Where do you hope to be in your career three years from now?
My plan is to eventually run a hospital, but that’s more than three years away. In the short term I want to get a job back in the hospital environment. If I have to start at the front desk that’s fine, but I’m aiming higher because of my previous experience.
What about continuing your education?
Oh yes, I’m not stopping. I plan on getting my bachelor’s, then I will go on to a master’s and then a PhD. I will get there because I’m young and there’s plenty of time.
Tell me about your support network at home…
I don’t have parents or close family, so it’s really just my kids that keep me going. I have a 14 year old, a 12 year old, and a 9, 8 and 5 year old. The older two are girls and the other three are boys; they’re my heart and soul. My kids are my cheerleaders and they’ve already told me that I’ve been a great example to them. They’ve always been good students, but they’ve excelled even more seeing my persistence and perseverance. I hope I’ve inspired them, certainly the older ones, to stay focused on their goals. I cannot reiterate more that without God in my life I would not be able to do this on my own. I would not be able to achieve what I’m achieving. There are troubles, don’t get me wrong, but I’m stepping over those hurdles to be able to do what I really, really want to do.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to Carrington students just starting out?
Make sure that you’re doing what you’re doing for yourself, not for anyone else, because otherwise it won’t mean a thing to you. In other words, don’t just go to school because you’re being forced to; because you’re still living at home and your parents want you to ‘do something with your life’. You’re not going to achieve real success in life unless you want it for yourself. And the other thing is to be consistent and always be honest with yourself.
What would you do with your time if you had an unexpected afternoon off?
Honestly I’d take my homework to the park; if I have work to do, I’d do it and get it ove r with. My teacher tells me that I’m an over-achiever because I already have some work from upcoming terms finished. I can’t turn it in, but it’s given me the opportunity to get ahead and it alleviates stress!
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