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Carrington College Blog

Faculty Spotlight – Meet Judy Riley

March 27, 2012

Judy Riley was a student at our Tucson, AZ campus back in 2004; after completing her certification and gaining some excellent work experience, she came back to join our faculty 3 years ago. Judy is now the Program Director for the Tucson Medical Assisting program.

Judy Riley Carrington College Professor A native of Bryan, Texas, Judy has been in Arizona for more than 9 years and loves living in Tucson; her background is not in health care, but in HR.

“Back in Texas I worked for an oil company for 17 years, and I handled all their human resources. When we came to Arizona I had planned to become a nurse, but there was a really long wait to get into RN school, so someone suggested an MA program to me.”

Judy didn’t know much about Medical Assisting at the time, but she saw our college as she was driving by one day so…

“I stopped in and spoke to someone in admissions, liked what I heard, and started here as a student 3 weeks later!”

Judy was a model student during her time studying the Medical Assisting certificate program;

“I had a perfect attendance record, won the Director’s Award, and gave the speech at graduation. It was an awesome year considering I had no medical background – my experience was all payroll and HR.”

After she graduated, Judy spent more than 4 years working for Arizona Community Physicians, the largest physician owned medical practice in Arizona.

“I did my externship, and 2 days later I had a job with Arizona Community Physicians. I learned so much working with a wonderful doctor for 2 years; she added so much to what I had learned in school. After a couple of years I got promoted to Back Office Lead Medical Assistant, and then got promoted to again to Office Manager.”

One day Judy got a call from the Director of Career Services at the Carrington campus in Tucson to let her know that there was a position open with the Tucson Medical Assisting faculty. Judy applied for a position as an Instructor and joined us early in 2009, initially teaching the Medical Assisting and the Medical Billing & Coding programs;

“I was an Instructor for about a year; then I got a promotion to Extern Coordinator, and later that year I was promoted to Program Director.”

Judy is continuing her education online. She wants to take her Carrington career to the next level so she is currently finishing up a Bachelor’s degree in Technical Management at DeVry University. She then intends to complete a Master’s in Business Administration online with the DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management.

The most satisfying part of Judy’s job at Carrington College is the impact she has on the lives of her students;

“I’ve been to 7 or 8 graduation ceremonies, and I cry every time I see my students’ faces, and those of their families during the ceremony. It’s very rewarding.”

The pivotal moment in her career, her ‘wow moment’ as Judy calls it, came with one particular Medical Assisting student. Christopher had been involved in gangs for most of his life; he came to class covered in tattoos, used to slump in his chair with the attitude of “lady, what are you going to teach me?”  The transformation that followed is amazing, so we’ll let Judy tell the story in her words.

“This was a couple of years ago, Christopher’s cousin had been shot and the funeral was at the cemetery across the street from our campus. At the funeral Christopher realized that many of his friends and family had died; he decided then and there that he had to find something positive in his life or he was going to end up dead too. As he looked around the funeral he noticed our college sign across the street.

Although he had signed up for the MA program, his heart really wasn’t in it until I forced him to do what was right. I told him “I don’t know if anyone has ever believed in you, but I do. And I need you to show me what you have.”

He applied himself and raised his grades; he went from a ‘C’ and ‘D’ student to an ‘A’ and ‘B’ student. At graduation he told me that I was the first person to ever care about him for no reason. He now works drawing blood for the American Red Cross, which is amazing because it is very hard to get a job with the Red Cross. Christopher still comes by when we have blood drives, and I tell him he will always be my first success story!”

Judy lives in Tucson with her husband of 10 years, and between them they have three boys in their mid-20s, and 2 Chihuahuas, Gracie and Molly. Coming from Texas, everyone expects Judy to be a cowgirl, which sounds like it might just be a little bit true! “People might think because I come from Texas I must be a country girl; I’m not really, but I do have to admit that right out of high school I was a part of the ‘Catalina Cowgirls’ at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. We would ride out with the flags at every show. Some of my family used to compete in the rodeo, but I was pretty much just for show!”

To give you some insight into Judy’s private life we asked her which companion, and what book, movie and music she would make sure she had with her if she was going to be stranded on a desert island for a week?

Desert Island Companion

“It would have to my childhood friend Lisa, she’s been my best friend since 1st Grade; I can’t go anywhere without her. My husband would pick Matthew McConaughey for me, if I was to pick Sandra Bullock for him!”

Desert Island Book

“It’s going to sound really funny, but probably The Wizard of Oz; it was the first book I read from cover to cover as a child. I was so enthralled with the idea that someone could slip on some red slippers and go somewhere! I tried it, but it didn’t work!”

Desert Island Movie

“Oh that one’s easy! Beaches with Barbara Streisand; that’s my favorite movie.”

Desert Island Music

“This is difficult; I’ve got pretty eclectic taste in music; I like country, rock, a little bit of rap, but if I had to pick one I guess I’d say The Eagles.”

Thanks for your time Judy! And good luck with the MBA (and tracking down Matthew McConaughey!)

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