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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

CAMA student discovers powerful career boost

January 9, 2014
Karissa had always wanted to help people, making the CAMA program a perfect fit.

Twenty-two year old Karissa Amador is a driven young woman with two primary ambitions: give to others and make your own way to success. She learned the importance of these intertwined goals at a very early age.

Karissa never met her father, who moved and changed his last name to avoid child support. Growing up in a single-mom home with four young step-brothers, Karissa understood the meaning of struggle, and sought something away from home to occasionally escape the weight and responsibility of her role. She discovered the power of volunteering and the comfort that comes from helping someone in greater need.

“I didn’t want to be a babysitter and volunteered a lot to be away from home,” says Karissa. But along the way something magical happened. “Helping people is the best thing you can do for yourself and for others,” she says. “I just love that feeling.”

She carried that ethic with her as a Clinical and Administrative Medical Assisting student at the Temecula campus, where just a few months into her program she was already racking up accolades, including Dean’s List honors. She received the Notable Newbie Award, Inspirational Involvement Award (voted unanimously by faculty) and was selected as one of the student representatives to meet with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), during a site visit. Karissa’s volunteer and leadership efforts were astounding – especially on a campus barely a year old.

Some of her SJVC clubs, volunteerism and leadership roles included: Diversity Club; ASB where as President and sole member, Karissa recruited three other students to join; Blood Drive, where she helped set a campus record; HOSA Heart Walk; Life Stream’s ‘Be the Match’, where she helped register students who donated blood and who could later be determined to have a blood match to someone with a blood disorder/disease; ASB canned food drive; Christmas tree gift drive – where she hand-painted a Christmas tree with bright gifts – and the Diversity Club’s suicide prevention awareness campaign – a special cause for Karissa who experienced such a loss within her own family.

Karissa, who is pretty modest about her talent for leadership and motivation for others to jump in, is philosophical.

“I figure, well, who else is going to do it, you know?” So, she just starts making fliers, starting sign-up sheets and planning photo opportunities and asks, “Who’s with me?”

“Karissa is a born leader,” offers John Hall, Dean of Student Services. “When she is involved, I know the organization will not have a long leadership transition, because she is always giving people the opportunity to step up and perform to their abilities.”

She also recognizes that many people with jobs, families and other obligations don’t have room in their lives for volunteering. She sees the career benefits that spring up during many of those selfless efforts, however, and encourages others to push themselves.

“You never know when you might see somebody that you can call when you’re ready for a job, or learn something that you didn’t get in class that will make you better at what you do,” she says. “Get involved; it’s the best way of networking.”

Karissa, who worked at Picture People until the end of her CAMA program, graduated in November and is now working at Pacific Dermatology in Temecula doing what she loves best: helping people feel better. Her plan is to continue her education to become a Registered Nurse, so that she might better serve those in need.

“I want to do as much as I can on this earth,” says Karissa. “I want to inspire and touch other people’s hearts and let them know I care about them.”

Karissa says she has learned as much about what she doesn’t want to do as she has about what she clearly wants in her life, primarily from watching her mother, Sylvia.

“It’s been very difficult for her to move forward and stay ahead,” says Karissa. “I don’t want to make some of those same mistakes. But, she has been going to school since I was born and now is working toward getting a job. I am proud of her recent efforts and so hopeful that it will get better for her.”

Karissa, who has lived with her Aunt Corina and Uncle Jeff since she was 17, appreciates all the help and support they provide. “I am thankful every day to have had them in my life,” she says. Family is still one of the most important influences in Karissa’s life and she credits her aunt and uncle, as well as boyfriend, Dion, with helping her to get to this point in life.

Karissa values all of the influences in her young life. “Ever since I was little I have had a strong faith, and that’s what really pushes me the most,” she says. “I have my mother to thank for that. She is the one that introduced me to the Lord and gave me something bigger to believe in.”

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