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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Four generations inspired to excel

September 2, 2014

Angie Carpenter comes from a long line of strong, independent women. Angie’s great, great, grandmother, Gigi, was a big part of the women’s suffrage movement where she fought for women’s rights and equality. Her example was not lost on the generations of sisters, mothers and daughters in her family to follow.

“I think that most of us women in our family kind of have that expectation that we came from a family that is expected to do great things and support each other and be there for each other,” says Angie.

Their four generations of women have made great strides in the medical field where leadership and teaching roles were intertwined. Angie was no exception to that call of professional accomplishment.

Starting out in the medical field as a coder-biller, Angie realized she was misplaced. She needed to be directly involved in patient care, so she went back to school to become a LVN.

Two years later Angie was working 12-hour days at a local hospital and getting calls in the middle of the night to get back to the ER. Long hours away from home were not working for her growing family, which now included her husband, Jason and their four young children, Marissa-9, Jason-7, Jonathan-5 and Jeremy-3. After eight years, she knew she had to make a change.

“I wanted a more set schedule and to have more time with my family,” says Angie. “I didn’t want to get those 2:00 AM calls anymore.”

Angie went to work at SJVC’s Lancaster campus as a Medical Assisting program instructor a little over a year ago and has not looked back.

Now, not only does she get to see her kids’ football games, she is the Head Medic and Field Coordinator for the local football league. “I don’t know much about regular football, but I can stitch you up right there on the field,” she assures.

Angie is settling into the profession she was meant to enjoy and has already received an Employee of the Month award. And, like her great, great grandmother, Angie is a strong proponent of equality and is the campus’s Gay Straight Alliance advisor, as well as ASB advisor.

“Our Diversity Club shows support for all of our differences,” she says. “It’s really hard for students, especially just coming out of high school, to know where they can find support, and we show them that at SJVC they will be supported.”

Angie revels in her responsibility as a teacher. Her greatest moments come when a struggling student finally gets it – when the light suddenly clicks on. “When that happens they become more confident in themselves and in their skill level,” says Angie. “I love to see that change in them.”

Her students return that affection and sense of shared success.

“She makes class fun and interesting, but we’re learning too!” says CAMA student Kelsey Owens. “She doesn’t just teach us out of the book, but opens our eyes to real life situations.”

Angie makes sure her students know that learning all of the intricacies of their new profession takes time…and some failures along the way. “I tell them it’s ok to make mistakes, but better to do it here so we can correct them before you go out into the field,” she says.

During these times of trial and error she likes to tell them: “Even when you fall on your face, you’re still going forward and making progress. Just be better than you were yesterday.”

Against her own good advice, Angie struggles with letting her students fall too hard. “I want to do everything for everyone and give them whatever they need,” she says. “But, sometimes I have to say, ok, they need to do this on their own. I can’t go to extern with them,” she admits.

“She goes out of her way to help students,” says Luis Flores, CAMA student.

Angie replenishes her nurturing spirit with lots of activities with her family. Their favorite pastime is riding their individual quads. Yes, even 3-year old Jeremy has one (with built-in safety features). It probably won’t surprise her students to know that Angie also races a dirt track car at the local fairgrounds, where she won a Third Place ribbon last year.

But, Angie’s dearest memento is Gigi’s cookie cooling rack that her great, great grandmother used for treats to “get men to come out” to suffrage meetings. Angie still uses the cookie rack, as well as a few of Gigi’s powerful lessons for improving the human condition.

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