Justin works at the campus in the morning through the Federal Work Study Program, goes to class in the afternoon, and always goes the extra mile by volunteering for community outreach events.
Thanks for your time Justin. Let’s start by why you chose Carrington?
I graduated high school in 2012. Toraj, who now works in the Enrollment Services team at the campus, used to teach there. I didn’t do so well in my first couple of years at high school so I had to take a credit retrieval class. Toraj taught that class, he was my mentor. He really helped me; he helped me graduate actually.
After I caught up on my credits I became his TA (Teacher Assistant) and that led me to help other people graduate. We stayed in touch; in February he reached out and suggested I take a look at Carrington. I didn’t really think too much about it until I went down there. But I liked what I saw, and I signed up.
What made you choose Medical Assisting?
Actually I’ve always wanted to be a fireman; I still do. My uncle is a fireman here in Spokane. After I left high school I thought I’d do a Fire Science program. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that would be kind of a one-dimensional education. This Carrington MA program gives me the opportunity to do tons of different things. That’s what I liked about it, and that’s what convinced me to enroll.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned at Carrington so far?
I’ve learned so much, I don’t think I can put my finger on just one thing. I guess I’ve learned that there’s a lot out there that I didn’t know. The medical language, all that crazy terminology, there’s a lot of that. I didn’t realize just how in depth this program would be.
What the most interesting thing you learned about yourself at Carrington?
I’ve always been bad at taking tests, I mean I suck at tests! I don’t like reading, that’s my issue. Growing up it often felt like reading was a punishment, so I grew to not like it. But on this program, if you want to be successful, you have to read a lot.
That’s the way you learn half this stuff, you know? There’s a lot of hands-on time in the labs, so that really helps because I’m a practical learner, but there is a lot to read. There’s a big difference between skimming through books in high school and reading a chapter to really try to learn something. I guess that’s what I’ve discovered – that I can push myself, I can keep myself from getting sidetracked and procrastinating. Knowing I can do that is kind of cool.
So how have you managed to adjust to the reading?
I know that if I don’t do it then I’m going to be a below average, or at best, an average student. And that will lead to me being just average in my career. If you want something, and you want to be good at it, then you have to give it 110%. My family always told me that “nothing worth having comes easy”. I didn’t try very hard in high school; I just passed by the skin of my teeth. I don’t want it to be like that here. I’ve been pushing myself; even if I don’t want to read something, I force myself to do it.
And if you “suck at tests” as you say, how have you coped with the tests at Carrington?
I’ve got a test every day this week and that’s just draining the life out of me, but my scores are getting better. At first I struggled because I didn’t want to read; I thought I’d just wing it. I didn’t do as well in the first two mods as I could have; I knew I could do better so I kicked myself into action. Since then my test scores have gone up. I know I can still improve, so I’ve still got some work to do.
What’s the biggest thing you want to change about yourself during the program?
I want to be more patient with myself – to stop being so hard on myself. I have to stop thinking that I can’t do something. That’s what my instructor says; if you keep thinking you’re going to be bad at something, then most likely the results are going to be bad. But if you stay positive, keep pushing yourself forward, and have faith in yourself, then the results may come out a little differently.
So where do you want to be in three years?
My goal is still to be a fireman, but I want to be more than that. I want more credentials and more experience. After I’m done with medical assisting school, I’m thinking about going to school to become a certified paramedic. I want to be a fireman, but I want to be 100% ready. I know I’ve still got some growing up to do, so I’m taking my time and preparing myself. I want to make sure I always have options.
I believe that if you can find something you love, something you’re good at, then you’ll never have to work a day in your career. That’s what I’m aiming for. It’s been a challenge, and I’m still in the learning process, but eventually I believe I’m going to be very good at my job and I’m going to enjoy what I do.
In January I want to find a medical assistant job and get some cash flow moving, get stable. Eventually, maybe in a year or two, I’ll go back to school. But I don’t know yet whether that’ll mean working part time as a medical assistant while at school or taking online classes while working full-time. As I mentioned, I’m thinking about the paramedic certification, maybe even enrolling in a Registered Nursing program. That’s something that interests me too. I don’t know, but somewhere in there is a plan – I just haven’t fully figured it out yet.
Tell me about your support network.
I’m a big family person, I mean my cousin Kendrick is my best friend. Friends come and go, but a family’s got to stick together. I’m closer to my family than a lot of people; we look out for each other. Nobody on my mom’s side has ever graduated college, so I’m trying to break the chain. We don’t have to go down the same road as our parents. I’m trying to build a future, not just for myself, but for the generations ahead.
My mom, Crystal, is my anchor; she’s one of the most important people in my life. Whenever I feel like quitting she keeps me going, she tells me to keep my head up. I’ve always lived with mom, but since my freshman year at high school, my dad and I have gotten really close. He’s there to support me; he wants me to do better than him. He chews me out if I’m slacking, so he’s always on my case!
Is there anything you wish you’d known on day one at school, any advice for new students?
I wish I’d been more prepared. I think I underestimated the work. You may not find it as hard as some people say, but if you think it’s going to be easy peasy lemon squeezy, then it’s not going to be very fun!
Don’t mess around; take it seriously. This is your future. If you want to be successful and make a change in your life, just do the best you can. Do yourself justice. It’s all on you. Come in with the mindset that you’re making history for yourself, maybe for your family; you’re trying to make people proud so don’t mess it up.
How has your time at Carrington changed you?
The last 6 months have had a positive impact on me and my family; my cousin Kayla saw what I was doing and enrolled just a couple of days after me. She’s also on the MA program; she’s in the morning class and I’m in the afternoon class. I’m pushing her just as hard, if not harder, than I push myself.
My self-esteem has gone up, realizing that I’m a better person than I thought I was or thought I could be. Going to college is a confidence booster for sure; I think I’m a better person. I’m not going to be that guy who struggles to pay bill his bills every month, I want a career and this is going to help me get one.