Born and raised in San Lorenzo, CA, Shanandrea, 30, and fiancé David are getting married next summer. Shanandrea is step-mom to two daughters – Aricela, 10, and Angelina, aged 16. Shanandrea enrolled with us in April this year; she’ll complete her Medical Billing & Coding (MBC) program in mid-January. Then she’ll be back in June for her graduation ceremony. To start our conversation I asked why that was important to her?
“I’ll definitely be coming back for graduation. I have a 10 year old step-daughter; it’s important for her to see me walk the stage – just to help be a good role-model and keep her motivated with school.”
When I spoke with Shanandrea in early November she was excited to be in the final term of the MBC program at our San Leandro campus, and looking forward to the final step.
“I’m starting my extern on December 2nd – they tell me they already have a location in mind for me, so hopefully I’ll be going out for an interview in the next week.”
Looking back now, how was the enrollment process for you?
“When I met with the Enrollment Advisor she was just really nice! I felt that she was very honest and upfront with me. I’ve been in situations where people were really trying to ‘sell me’ something, telling me what I wanted to hear, but my advisor wasn’t trying to sell me anything.”
What was it that stood out?
“She asked me about my goals, my background, what kind of pay I was looking to make. I felt that she really cared about who I was as a person and what I wanted out of school, instead of just trying to sell me a program regardless of whether I was ready or not. She wanted to make sure that I was really committed. Even now she’ll call me every month or so to see how I’m doing. I think I was very lucky.”
Why Medical Billing & Coding?
“When I first went into Carrington I was looking at the Medical Assisting program. But once I started talking with my advisor, she showed me other options to consider. I chose MBC because, once I graduate, I can use the skills in so many different places. I can work for a doctor’s office, a dental office, a lawyer’s office, at a hospital, I could work for Workers Comp. I just felt like the opportunities were endless. It was a better fit and I couldn’t be happier with the program I chose.”
Is Carrington your first college experience?
“No. When I graduated high school I went to school to become a certified nursing assistant, but I guess it wasn’t the right fit for me – I wasn’t happy even though I did work as a CNA for quite a while. I also tried cosmetology school, but it’s really tough to make money in that profession without an established client base. I completed both programs but with a family and bills to pay, it just wasn’t working out for me.”
Why did you decide that 2013 was the right time to go back to school?
“I got tired of working jobs that weren’t going anywhere. When you don’t have a degree or a certificate, you can get front office jobs, answering phones and stuff, but you don’t get paid much and there are no growth opportunities. I wanted to be able to contribute to my family, to help send my step-daughters, and my own kids when I have them, to college. I want to be able to give them the things they want, and take vacations. I felt that if I didn’t go back to school that it just wasn’t going to happen for me.”
Was going back to school what you expected?
“I thought it would be a lot harder, being a little older. I was nervous that I’d be surrounded by a lot of people who had just graduated high school, nervous about being the oldest person in my class. But when you’re 30 and you’ve experienced the real world, and you know how hard it can be to make ends meet and pay the bills, it gives you more focus to work hard in school; it’s easier to prioritize.”
What did you find most challenging?
“Balancing home life with school – the kids, cooking dinner, cleaning house. I’m fortunate that my fiancé works, so I can focus on school full-time. But honestly I think it’s easier than going right after high school. Back then I didn’t have any responsibilities so my priorities were going out, buying clothes. It’s easier when you’re older; I’m not worried about giving up a Saturday night out because I have to study for a test on Monday!”
So what’s your long-term career plan?
“I want to continue my education and pursue a bachelor’s degree in Health Care Administration. I’m planning on enrolling in the online program at DeVry University; I hope to start early next year. I don’t want to lose my motivation. School is very important – I want my step-daughters to see that if I’m telling them how important an education is, that I did it too. Long term, I would love to see myself as a manager at a hospital. My goal is to work for either Stanford Hospital or Eden Medical Center.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d share with new students?
“There was a lot more homework and studying than I expected; I was actually a little taken aback by how much there was. After the first 6 weeks though, once you get into a routine, it’ll get a lot easier. Don’t second-guess yourself, don’t give up.
Sometimes it’s going to seem really hard, there’s a lot of work and you’ll think that you can’t do it. But it does get easier as you go along, and you do learn a lot. Once you start something and complete it, you’ll have a great sense of accomplishment and pride in yourself. If you apply yourself, you can do it. Push through, you’ll be thankful. Just remember why you started. And If I can do it, anyone can.”
For comprehensive consumer information on our programs, visit carrington.edu
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