Ashton McCants, aged 24, is studying Respiratory Care at our Pleasant Hill campus. Born in California, raised in Memphis, TN, Ashton served in the United States Air Force for four years. He completed a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautics after his enlistment ended. He enrolled in the Carrington College California Respiratory Care (RC) program in October 2013.
Firstly, thank you for your service Ashton, what did you do in the Air Force?
Initially I was flying; I had a great time doing that, but I had an almost fatal accident. That kind of turned me off, so I focused on pursuing a medical profession. I worked as a dental tech, trying to decide what to do long term. I have a dental tech certification from the USAF, but I didn’t pursue a dental certification on the outside. Initially I wanted to go into oral/maxillofacial surgery, but I kind of lost interest in that. I think I outgrew the profession. I wanted a different intellectual challenge, I also wanted a change.
So what made you choose Respiratory Care at Carrington College California?
I was diagnosed with asthma at two months old, so I’ve basically dealt with the problem my whole life. I felt I could give a lot back based on my own experiences, being able to share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years coping with the condition.
I picked Carrington on its reputation; from my research, a lot of students seemed pretty satisfied with the RC program. I also didn’t have to go to school for an extra year and a half to do pre-requisites; they were included in the curriculum. So that was a big factor, I could jump right into the program and get started right away.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned on the RC program so far?
There have been so many interesting things, it’s kind of crazy picking a favorite. I would have to say the most interesting part is learning how everything in the human body works together as one homeostatic unit. Everything is doing its own little job, playing its own part in one big puzzle.
That’s something they feed into you in the military – it’s not about you, the individual, it’s a team effort – and that’s what we’re learning now in anatomy and physiology. Everything kind of has its place and is playing a big role. That’s probably been the most interesting thing for me so far.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about yourself so far on the program?
I’ve learned that I can do anything I want to if I put my mind to it; as long as I put my time and energy into it, my pay-out will be great. It sounds kind of clichéd, but I’ve found that I can push myself to limits that I never thought I could before and it’s paying great dividends for myself.
You have a bachelor’s degree and served in our military, how does your time at Carrington compare?
I know it sounds crazy, but this is the first time I’ve had a difficult challenge; even through basic training and my time in the military, I was never faced with a challenge that I couldn’t overcome. And even though I am overcoming these challenges at Carrington, it’s requiring a lot more effort on my part! I’ve been humbled!
I was one of those students in high school who never really had to study; I never really studied hard in college, although I maintained a 3.0+ GPA. I’ve never really had to try hard before; this is the first time that I’ve had to apply myself to the full. It’s been pretty intense.
Tell me three things you wish you knew when you started the program?
- I wish I knew a little more about the curriculum coming in; you’re never really prepared for what you’re up against. You kind of go with the flow. It’s very, very intense.
- I wish I’d known more about the history of the program before I started. I’m a firm believer in “to know where you’re going, you have to know where you came from.” Now I understand more about the program, where it’s come from and where it’s heading. Everything kind of happened so fast. But I’m very happy; it’s a very strong program and I would recommend it to anyone.
- I can’t even think of a third; I came in expecting certain things, and I think all those expectations have been met. The professors are amazing; honestly everything has been great.
What’s the biggest thing you want to change about yourself during the program?
I’m a great procrastinator. I have a history of putting things off until the last minute. I came into this program knowing that I’m going to have to push myself to learn a lot of information at a very fast pace. So I’m really focusing on handling obstacles as they’re presented to me, rather than putting them off to the last minute.
Where do you hope to be with your career in three to five years?
I’m interested in transport and respiratory care; it’s going to require me to do three years in intensive care treatment first, but that area really interests me. I can also see myself potentially working abroad in a few years.
Tell me about your support network at home…
I have my girlfriend, Shavontae; we met in the military. She’s working on her bachelor’s degree in Social Science currently. She hasn’t decided how far she wants to take it, so we’re playing that by ear a little too. We’ve been together for three years now. She’s been my rock; she helps me study and stops me from procrastinating because she knows exactly what I’m capable of! She makes sure that I don’t become my own worst enemy while I’m trying to accomplish this goal of mine.
What’s the single biggest piece of advice you’d give to Carrington students just starting out?
I would definitely tell them to find an excellent support group within their peers. You’re all going through the same thing, so the best thing you can do is support each other. Get each other through this by any means necessary. If that means staying after class for three or four hours, meeting up on the weekends, or having late night telephone or video conferences, just remember that you’re all in this together. Having that support system really helps you get through it, it really does.
You get an unexpected afternoon off to yourself, what would you do with that time?
Fish. I’m an avid freshwater fisherman, I love to fish. I try to get out as much as I can. It’s the most relaxing, tranquil thing I can do with my spare time. It’s my sport, my thing and I really enjoy it. It puts my mind at ease.
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