Desirae Beltran, Medical Assisting Grad is Following a Passion to Help High-Needs Children
Desirae Beltran graduated from the Medical Assisting program at Carrington College, Albuquerque, in April of 2022; she is now studying for her associate degree in Health Studies.
Bonnie Nolen, Program Director for the Medical Assisting program, nominated Desirae because of her excellence and dedication as a student.
“Desirae is strong student who has overcome many obstacles,” Bonnie explains. “She is a single mother of three teenage girls, each of whom need her attention, care, and support: her oldest has high special needs; her middle child is facing a troubling time in life; and her youngest—although helpful to her—still needs her attention, too. Approximately 60% of her time is spent with her oldest daughter with special needs.”
Bonnie noticed that despite all the responsibilities Desirae had at home, she also made school a top priority.
“She often stayed up late into the night and early morning get her schoolwork turned in,” Bonnie says. “She made sure her attendance was excellent during school and externship, along with making sure her girls were taken care of.”
Desirae’s priority is still her children; in the meantime, she continues building her knowledge and education for her career.
What did you do before enrolling in the Medical Assisting program?
Before enrolling, I worked for eight years as an educational assistant, teaching life skills to children with high needs. My daughter has high needs; she is medically fragile, with cerebral palsy and microcephaly; because I’m used to caring for her and have always taken care of kids with high needs, it felt natural to work with people with higher needs.
My externship was in neurology, and because of my daughter’s needs and the lifetime of knowledge I have gathered while caring for her, it was very interesting to me. It felt like a natural progression to work in the medical field.
How did you hear about the Medical Assisting program?
Well, it was the first thing that popped up when I did a search, and I stopped searching! Their program fit my needs and schedule: it was offered online and in person, they had classes at night, and as a single parent, their hours fit mine. I was in person twice a week and being online was no problem for me; I was used to it.
What is your favorite part of the program, and what has been the most challenging?
My favorite part was being in class with others and hearing their perspectives on things; seeing what they brought to the classroom from all different walks of life was beautiful. It’s amazing to have twenty people come together with the same goal, to all have that connection; we worked together beautifully, and I felt so at home. I still go back to visit my instructor and director; they feel like family.
The most challenging part for me was dealing with the age difference between me and the younger students. I’m a little slower learning things than the typical 18- or 19-year-old student. Sometimes I noticed that younger students didn’t take it as seriously or even quit; that was really disheartening for me, because being in the program was a very serious commitment for me. It was a life change, something I had to balance with single parenthood and my kids’ needs, laundry, dinner—real life struggles. When some students don’t take their commitment to education seriously, it affects the entire class—and the instructor.
Where did you do your externship? Can you tell us a bit about that experience?
I did my six-week externship at a trauma hospital in New Mexico; it was exhausting but life-changing for me, I think I was the first student that had done an externship in that department; probably the first in the neurology department.
Where do you hope to work upon graduation (when will you graduate)?
I’d love to work at UNM Southside hospital because I’d love to be minutes from my home. I’d prefer working in pediatrics; working with adults is great but being that I came from working in the schools, kids tend to be easier to work with and warm up to you; I find it’s easier and more natural for me to connect with kids.
Do you have any words of advice for those just beginning their program or for those not sure about whether to enroll?
My words of advice: communicate with everyone there; don’t be timid. If you are going through challenges, let them know. It might seem intimidating at first but once you open up to your instructors and classmates, you’ll find support. Life happens; I had personal and life events happening when I was in the program and I wanted to be private. I felt overwhelmed, but once I stopped that and decided to communicate and get support, things improved; they helped me, they understood. Letting them in helped them help me—and helped me finish school.
For those not sure whether they should enroll: I never thought I’d be where I am now. Before I enrolled, when I was looking into the program, I thought, “What is nine months? I can be in the same place I am right now, or in nine months I can be finished with school and have something amazing that I am proud of. I can give my kids something to look up to. There were obstacles, but you don’t have to let obstacles stop you—you just have to keep pushing forward.