When Dede started the SJI Medical Business Information Technology (MBIT) program back in January 2012, she was searching for a way to move her life and the life of her family forward. A single mother of three boys, she often struggled to make ends meet with her job in the fast food industry. When she heard about the SJI program for medical office skills training, it appealed to her for multiple reasons.
“I have always admired people in the medical profession. It takes a special kind of person – someone who is nurturing, but also hard working. I was also attracted to the fact that the field can offer great benefits, especially health benefits – and that was something I was desperate to provide for my children, knowing that I could afford to take care of them. It’s a respected field, and I was so yearning for some respect and to feel like I had a real career. And, it’s a growing field even in this economy. The research shows that training in healthcare is a nice safe choice because we’re always going to need medical staff, and there will be more room for jobs.”
Once Dede began the program, she found it to be a place where the students supported each other in the day-to-day challenges of school. She also was able to rely on her community-based organization case manager and the SJI staff to help her make important connections to a variety of supports, particularly childcare and scheduling support. The apprehension Dede felt about her limited experience using computers faded throughout the program, with the thorough instruction and follow-up she received from South Seattle Community College instructors, SJI program managers and CBO case managers.
“Any problem or need that I had was met. I was concerned about daycare, and I was helped with that. I was concerned with scheduling and other stuff, and they were like, ‘We’ve got you. Give us what you’ve got, and we’ll help you get there.’ By the end of the program, I was pretty comfortable with the computer, and now I can even show my children something! Anytime I had a concern or was kind of getting behind – there was always someone there to help me succeed.”
With a lot of hard work, dedication, and positive attitude, Dede made it to the internship phase of the MBIT program. She was the first student in the SJI program to participate in an internship at Children’s Hospital.
“My internship was an amazing experience – I am the first person to ever intern at Children’s Hospital through the MBIT program as a coder. Children’s is just such a wonderful organization – they love what they do, they love the community, and they love children. I am so happy – I wake up, and I’m excited to go to work. And I’ve now paved the way for someone else, with future opportunities for other student internships.”
For anyone out there who is unsure if the SJI program can offer them an opportunity to change their lives, Dede had this to offer:
“Education – you just can’t take it away. I might not always have had clothes, food, a place to live – but I will always have my education. The pride I felt from graduating from this program is just the beginning, I have to say, if anyone is wavering, if they are at that point in their life where they are just not sure of themselves, or if it’s worth it – I know what that feels like. But you CAN be anything you want. I come from a family with no education, I didn’t graduate high school and got my GED instead, I felt I barely could do so many things before this and had no faith in myself. And now I realize, ‘I’m liberated and the sky is the limit. It’s just a matter of picking where I want to go, now that’s the hardest part.’ Just knowing that is amazing, and so I hope that anyone else who is in that same position as I was would give this program a shot – it’s worth it. It can be a life-changer.”