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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

A Quiet Voice Grows Strong

September 30, 2013
About daughter Haylee: I want her to know that anything is possible at any point in your life.” -Ashley

For the longest time, the only voice of encouragement Ashley Schwarz heard was that one deep inside her. “You’ve got to be better,” it said. Ashley lost each of her parents before she was ready to be on her own and, without siblings, her lone inner voice was the only one pushing her forward.

Ashley knew she wanted a career in the medical field after, at 12-years old, she witnessed her mom succumb to kidney disease.

“I don’t remember a day that she wasn’t sick,” says Ashley. “I always told her I would grow up and find a cure for kidney disease.”

Ashley started and stopped college a few times and just couldn’t seem to latch on. But when she found SJVC’s online Clinical Medical Assisting program, things fell into place.

“You guys saved my life,” she enthuses. “This is the best thing that’s ever happened.” That doesn’t mean it was easy.

Ashley’s life had changed quite a bit since her previous attempts at continuing her education. She had married, eventually started a family and had all of the responsibilities of a young family trying to get ahead. She had earned her CNA right out of high school and was working full-time as a receptionist in a doctor’s office. But, she wanted more for herself and her family.

Ashley first tested the online water with the CMA certificate program. All was going well until her math class threatened to take her down.

“Pam (Soto-Gonzalez, student support) called me almost every night and would just take control of my computer to help me work through problems,” says Ashley. “I definitely wouldn’t have been as successful as I was without how dedicated everyone was to helping students.”

“Ashley is a great example of how the educational experience is what the student makes of it, and I am proud of her accomplishments,” says Pam Soto-Gonzalez.

Encouraged by her certificate program success, Ashley enrolled in and completed the CMA A.S. degree program. Her husband, Kevin, and their now 2-year old daughter, Haylee, gave her the support and encouragement she needed to keep going.

“When things got tough Kevin would say, ‘Suck it up, sister,’” Ashley laughs. “And, Haylee would sit with me at the computer and pretend she was doing her ‘school work’ too.”

Ashley graduated last February and barely paused before enrolling in an online Human Resources, Bachelor’s degree program. Still working full-time, she is determined to do whatever it takes to have the medical career of her dreams. She has even managed to pull Kevin into her industry of choice.

While Kevin was working at a factory she submitted his application for a Surgery Services Dept. supervisory position at their local University Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. He got the job.

“Once I forced him into it, he took off,” says Ashley. “I’m very proud of him and happy that he’s doing what he loves.”

That day isn’t far off for Ashley, too, whose medical office management responsibilities will be to train others to provide front and back office medical care and support for their patients. She will have earned that position one step at a time.

“One of the things I struggled most with was growing up never having people tell me I could stretch myself,” says Ashley. “All the support I had here (at SJVC Online) pushed me into a place I never thought I could go.”

She is making sure that Haylee gets a different childhood message. “I want her to know that anything is possible at any point in your life.” Ashley’s example says it loud and clear.

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