Inspiring Paths: Valentina Charleston’s Pursuit of Healthcare Excellence

Valentina Charleston's Pursuit of Healthcare ExcellenceValentina Charleston watched closely as a child when nurses would visit her grandmother at home in the Navajo Nation. She learned early from them how important healthcare is to her family and larger community. That was when her interest in the field started to grow. She grew up and became a medical assistant, then went on to Carrington College in Albuquerque to become a dental assistant. Now she is working on her Associate of Science in Health Studies at Carrington College with plans to continue getting her Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up on a ranch around many hard-working people in a rural place called Mariano Lake. It is part of the Navajo Nation and about thirty miles outside Gallup, New Mexico. I am a full Navajo, 27 years old, and the only girl in my family. I am the oldest with three younger brothers. While attending the Dental Assisting program at Carrington College, I lived in Los Lunas. Now I am back in Mariano Lake while I complete my Associate of Science in Health Studies. I worked after graduating from the Dental Assisting program earlier this year but needed to take a break to recover from knee surgery. When I finish my associates, I plan on getting my Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration.

When did you decide to pursue a career in healthcare?

I was around nine or ten years old. My mom’s mom had a nurse come by our house every so often. I would always listen and pay attention. I know it was hard for my grandparents, needing someone to speak the language and understand what was going on with them. That is when my interest in healthcare and caring for my elders started.

What is your long-term goal?

I want to help start a dental office from the ground up. Being able to help start something that I am passionate about is what I see in my future.

What motivated you to choose Carrington College?

My aunt is my mom’s best friend and has been in my life since before I was born. I was a medical assistant during the COVID pandemic and she encouraged me to return to school to be a dental assistant. She had attended Carrington College when it had a different name. She recommended I give the school a try and I’m glad I did because I love it.

What have been your favorite parts of your programs at Carrington College?

With the current one, Health Studies, it’s online, so I have the flexibility to still be able to do things outside of school. Then with Dental Assisting, I enjoyed the hands-on aspect and the different scenarios that my instructor would give us. They might say, “You have a five-year-old and he is scared” or “You have a senior citizen and they can’t hear that well.” Then we would learn ways of navigating the situations. I really enjoyed that.

Did you ever want to quit when you were in school?

I can’t say that I did because I’ve always put school first. My grandparents always told me that my education is something nobody can take away from me. So, I always knew it was extremely important.

What got you through the challenging times?

I am grateful I have a spouse who is 100% supportive. I couldn’t do school without their support.

Is there a Carrington College instructor or staff member whom you would like to acknowledge?

Mr. Jamie Walters, the Dental Assisting instructor.

Do you have any advice for people interested in considering Carrington College or returning to school?

Give it a try, you won’t know what it’s like until you are in class and surprise yourself. Don’t knock it until you try it

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