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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Clinical Medical Assisting Student Q&A with Michelle Rodriguez

July 25, 2023

At nineteen years old, Michelle Rodriguez will be the first in her family to go to college. Even though she struggles a bit with her confidence level and occasional anxiety, she wants to set an example for her two sisters and reassure her parents that she will have a steady career and life. “I want to make my parents proud and let them know that I will be ok,” she explains.

A career as a medical assistant fulfills Michelle’s long-held dream to work in the medical field. But it is not easy to balance that career goal against the effort it will take to bring it into reality. Michelle was not deterred. She jumped in and did not look back.


Why did you choose a Clinical Medical Assisting direction and career training?

When I was a little girl, I wanted to do labor-and-delivery. In kindergarten I made a drawing of me taking a baby out. I still want a medical career, but now my mind is open to other medical positions.

During a field trip to SJVC during my junior year of high school I got interested in their Clinical Medical Assisting program.  I liked how the program worked. After I graduated high school, I went back there on my own.


What was that experience like?

I did my research and checked out 6-7 other schools. I went alone for my second tour at SJVC (Ontario campus) and if I didn’t like what I saw, I would have gone to other options.

I really appreciated the environment there; everyone was super-friendly and made you feel welcome. It was two hours of looking at the whole campus with an Admissions Advisor. When I left, I didn’t have any uncertainty. I just wanted to enroll.

A few days later I went back with my mom and dad (Claudia and Jesus) and one sister – and they really liked it. I enrolled that same day. I was excited, but also nervous. Classes started in 2-3 weeks!


What is it like in the Clinical Medical Assisting classroom?

I really like the small class size; it makes us more focused. You’re held accountable if you’re absent and there is a lot of direct attention and support from instructors. Even after school hours I can text or get on a call with instructors. They go above-and-beyond to make sure that I understand something.


What is your biggest obstacle?

In the beginning, I struggled with time management. I was still at my (food service) job of two-years and had to make time for homework and still have time for myself. It took me a few weeks to adjust. Everything is pretty smooth right now.

I was also a little anxious about future job interviews and getting a job. But Career Services starts you out early on with help doing resumes, mock interviews, how to dress and answer questions professionally for interviews. They also have a network of businesses to send us to (for potential hire).

Also, graduates return and talk to us about their experiences getting a job and how the school really helped them get there. It’s been really helpful to hear their experiences and success.


Any surprises in your program?

How easy it was to make friends in my program! They’re like sisters, and we do everything together. We help each other. If we have trouble understanding something, at least one of us will know how to do it. I’m excited to complete the program and graduate with them.


Were there difficult moments in the program?

When we started doing injections, we’d never touched a needle before, so we were very scared. But the first day we injected each other, we got over that fear pretty quickly. It was intimidating, but we just jumped right in. We practiced a lot and that really helped.


What is one of the best things about the Clinical Medical Assisting program?

CMA graduates come back and tell us that what we are learning is exactly what’s going to be needed out in the field. How we learn is exactly how most clinics function. I also like how quickly and smoothly the program goes.


What has been one of your best achievements so far?

I really like how my confidence has grown. I can be very shy, but in our smaller class sizes, I get a little more individual attention when I need it. That one-on-one attention from teachers helps me be less nervous or scared.

And knowing my classmates are all in the same boat helps me feel not so alone. I don’t feel judged and don’t question myself as much.


What makes this all possible for you?

I’m blessed to have the family support I do have – and not everyone has that. My mom really inspired me. She didn’t grow up in the best household, but she was resilient through it all. She reminds me to be patient with my journey. My younger sister told me I’ve inspired her to go to college and she’s going in a business direction after she graduates high school.

My family, collectively, just make me want to do more. Right now, I just try to worry about what I can control in the moment.  If it’s out of my control, I take a deep breath and focus on the things I can control.


What advice would you give others considering your career field…or going back to school?

Just do it…and take it day by day. The time is going to pass regardless, but it will pass toward a career and doing something beneficial. Don’t spend time doubting yourself. That same time will pass, and you will be stuck in the same place, doing the same thing.


What is next for you?

After I complete my Clinical Medical Assisting program, I will continue my education. I would like to get my bachelor’s degree and will definitely stay in the medical field.

Right now, I’m just trying to find time to do the things I enjoy; hanging out with friends, getting food, going on hikes – just being with them.

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