Empowering Dreams: Patricka and Herdenna Spencer’s Mother-Daughter Journey at Carrington College

Patricka and Herdenna Spencer are a mother-and-daughter student duo from the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. They have supported and encouraged each other while attending Carrington College in Albuquerque. Navigating their new roles as classmates has enriched their relationship as they look ahead to supporting their community through Medical Billing and Coding, as well as Medical Assisting.

Let’s start with each of you telling me a bit about yourself.

Patricka: I am married with four kids–three boys and one girl, which is Herdenna. Our family lives in Sundance, New Mexico, which is within the Navajo Nation. I never finished high school and only made it to 8th grade. In 2006, I earned my GED. After that, I mostly focused on being a stay-at-home mom. I wanted to go back to school, but I didn’t have time. Then, I looked at Carrington College last year and enrolled in the Medical Billing and Coding program. With a lot of encouragement and support, I graduated from that program in February 2023. That made me the first and only one of the six kids in my family to receive a college certificate or degree. I told Herdenna if I can do it, so can you. Herdenna: I grew up in Mexican Springs, New Mexico, which is also part of the Navajo Nation. I had an English teacher in high school who encouraged us to look at and apply to colleges. I knew about Carrington College because of my mom, Patricka. So I looked into their programs and liked medical assisting, so I decided to apply. I started at Carrington College two weeks after graduating high school in May 2023.

What motivated you to choose Carrington College?

Patricka: I decided to do the Medical Assisting program because I was already driving Herdenna to school in Albuquerque and waiting in the car for her while she was in class. The weather was getting hot while I was sitting outside. Being in class learning medical assisting seemed like a much better use of my time. Herdenna: Knowing my mom went to Carrington College for the Medical Billing and Coding program and liked it made me want to go. I also liked how everyone there was really friendly and helpful. I applied to the Medical Assisting program and was quickly accepted one day when I was sitting and talking to my mom. It was so exciting!

What is it like being in class together?

Patricka: I think it is great. The only thing I tell her is to address me more like just another classmate instead of her mom. It’s kind of like having a study buddy at home too. Herdenna: I told my Career Services Advisor that I already felt like I needed to do a good job before my mom enrolled. After she started, I felt like I needed to do an even better job.

Where are you in the program now?

Patricka: I’m in my second term. Herdenna: I’m on my third out of six terms  

What has been your favorite part of your program at Carrington College so far?

Patricka: I’ve enjoyed learning about blood pressure, urinalysis, suturing, sterile field, and different examination positions. I also really enjoy learning the science behind everything we do. Herdenna: I really enjoyed learning venipuncture. We were able to test for blood type. I even learned my blood type through the process.

What has been the most challenging part of your program?

Patricka: I have a hard time hearing the blood pressure range. I need to try a different type of stethoscope. Herdenna: The lecture part is the most challenging for me because I am more of a hands-on person.

Have you ever wanted to quit while you’ve been in school?

Patricka: During my first term of Medical Billing and Coding, I thought school was tough, but then I had the support to keep going. Herdenna: I haven’t had quitting on my mind. I have had a whole lot of support from my family. My uncle is always telling me to show that I can finish. With all of that support, I wouldn’t think to quit.

What has helped you get through the challenging times?

Patricka: My family and friends. My husband has been my biggest support. He pays for our gas to and from Albuquerque and always checks to make sure we are doing our homework. Herdenna: My dad! He always makes sure our homework gets done.

Are there any Carrington College instructors or staff members whom you would like to acknowledge?

Patricka: I think everyone at Carrington College is really helpful and supportive. Herdenna: Everyone has been great. They are trying to push us so we can get to where we want to go. Our main instructor tells us every week it is tough, but we can do it.

Do you have any advice for people interested in the Medical Assisting program?

Patricka: If you are interested in the medical field, learn some medical terminology and it will help a lot. Herdenna: Just do it even if you have no experience in healthcare. Don’t be afraid. Just jump right in and learn.

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