Alisha Alston has always been interested in the medical field. But it’s only recently that she started to explore a career in health care.
When she completed her Associate of Science degree in Health Studies in August, having earned her Certificate of Achievement in Medical Billing and Coding (MBC) last year at the San Leandro campus, she met a goal that she’d set for herself much earlier.
Thanks for reaching out Alisha, so why did you volunteer to feature in a Spotlight?
As soon as I saw the opportunity on Facebook, I told my English tutor Ms. Emily and Ms. Purnama, the San Leandro Student Success Manager, that I wanted to share my story. I’m very proud of my achievements and this is a great way of getting it out there.
What made you choose a healthcare career?
It was a fresh start, but I’ve also been interested in the medical field since I was a young girl. My mom was a registered nurse in psychiatry. I used to shadow her at work as much as I could. I wasn’t allowed on the floor obviously, but being around her in the office, seeing what she did every day, how she handled the patients, their charts and how she interacted with the doctors got me interested at a young age.
Tell me about the goal I mentioned in the introduction.
It was my goal to have graduated in the health care field before my 39th birthday, and I’m very proud to have achieved that.
Why wait until your late 30s to start this new career?
While I’ve always been interested in health care, I also wanted to pursue other career fields and other opportunities. I’ve got a Human Services Development degree and I have spent a lot of time working with people with disabilities as a volunteer over the last 13 years.
I’ve also done some retail work and some customer service work. Customer service is a big deal in the medical field. In fact I think it’s our most important task – making patients feel comfortable and well cared for from the front office to the back, making sure everything is done thoroughly and professionally.
What was the most interesting thing you learned during your time at Carrington?
Honestly it was learning how to complete all the different medical and insurance forms, and code the different diagnoses. That was the most interesting thing to me.
What’s the most interesting thing you learned about yourself at Carrington?
I have a lot more confidence now than I had before I started. I always kept to myself, I was kind of quiet. But now I’m able to express myself more, my personality has changed. I’m not as straight-laced anymore I guess. Because of my increased confidence, my relaxed, fun loving side comes through more than before and that looks good in a work environment. Patients need to feel relaxed and have confidence that you know what you’re doing. And increasing my confidence helps me to convey that.
What brought that confidence? Did you work on it, was it drawn out of you, or did it just evolve?
A combination of all three. I think the way that class was set up helped. Ms. Abbott set class up like a friendly, office type of environment. Her door was always open. She was always there to help us if we had trouble with something. Ms. Fisher, the Program Director at the time was the same. Even if it was something outside of class, we could go talk to either of them about it. They always found the time for us. They always helped us find a way to get through our dilemma, whatever it was, and feel better.
I’d really like to thank everyone at Carrington who helped me through both programs.
From my Enrollment Services Representative Erik Antonio, Ms. Purnama in the Student Success Center, Tess Davis on the front desk, my instructors and tutors Yvette Fisher and Nanette Abbott, even the Massage Therapy program director Kerry Matthews. Kerry wasn’t my teacher, but she was always there for me.
Everyone on the campus, all the way up to Mary Hawkins, the Dean of Academic Affairs, could not have done any more to help me be successful.
What was the biggest thing you wanted to change about yourself during the program?
My time management was the biggest thing I had to improve in both programs. I was less organized for sure, so I knew I had to improve and rearrange my schedule around my class work and homework. I’ve definitely improved on those fronts.
You’ve just graduated from the Health Studies program, so what’s next?
I’ve just enrolled at DeVry University to earn my bachelor’s degree in Technical Management. I’m doing a mix and match program; some of my classes are online and some are onsite at their Fremont campus. I’d also like to work part-time, or at least volunteer in the field, while I continue my studies.
What’s your long term career plan? What’s your dream job?
Initially I’m hoping to get a management position in a hospital or a medical facility. My dream job is to ultimately become the manager of a hospital or facility of some kind.
Tell me about your support network.
My mom, Dawn, has been there for me throughout, as well as my three sisters and my brother. They’re all on the East Coast at this point, but they’ve been very supportive.
My fiancé, Tyrone, and his entire family – Paulette and Romie, Terrence, Nikki, Tam and Taylor – have always been there for me too. Tyrone came to my graduation; he’s very proud of me. He and my mom are my biggest supporters.
So you’re engaged – congratulations! Have you set a date for the big day?
Maybe the summer or fall of next year. We’ve been together almost 14 years. We’re working on it – plans are still in progress!
What do you do to relax or enjoy yourself?
If I’m not on the internet reading, or watching a movie, I’d probably be trying to catch up on some much needed rest and sleep. Us students can always use more sleep!
With me having a disability, for fun I love to play Power Soccer. My motorized wheelchair has a specialized foot guard fitted in front and we play with a big soccer ball. Look it up on YouTube. I also enjoy adaptive bicycling – I like to do that too.
What advice do you have for Carrington alumni or students considering their next steps?
Don’t be afraid to enhance your journey, to improve your life experience. If you decide to go back to school for the Health Studies program, or any other further education, embrace it. It may be a lot of work, but don’t be afraid of it.
How has your time at Carrington changed your life?
It’s made a big improvement to my life. It’s gotten me ready for the future opportunities and goals that I’m pursuing now in terms of continuing my education and my career goals. It’s also helped me become a more confident person, someone who wants to help make improvements to my community.
Thanks for your time Alisha, and good luck for the future.
Visit our Health Studies program page to learn more about the online program Alisha has just completed, or contact an Enrollment Services Representative to learn more about the educational and career opportunities in Health Studies.