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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Grad Q&A with Two Time SJVC Graduate Carla Sandoval

July 6, 2023

Carla Sandoval was ready to move from warehouse forklift driver to a more comfortable administrative career in a business environment. When she earned her associate degree in SJVC’s Business Office Administration program last year, she thought she was settled into a new career trajectory. But when a high-risk pregnancy confined her to home, she decided to take that opportunity to continue her education – and career reach – online.

Carla has always been drawn to the crisp, efficient environment of a medical facility and helping care for her grandmother in past years gave her a greater appreciation for medical care facilities. Why not use this mandated down-time from work to specialize her business skills and education toward a medical environment?

SJVC’s online Healthcare Management Bachelor of Science degree program could make that happen. And at 33-years old, Carla had the wisdom to know that this was the right time to make her move up.


Why go back to school during your pregnancy’s home confinement? 

I had to do something with myself. I’ve been to beauty school, have certification in accounting and went through a criminal justice psychology program at a different college, but my motivation just wasn’t there. And my kids (daughters VeNess (6) and Viviana (now 1)) are the motivation to keep me going.


Did you have the support you needed at home to go back to school – even online? 

I lived in a household of 8-kids, siblings and cousins, plus my grandma, aunt and uncle. At home, my sister, my aunt, whoever was available, were always there to help me. They never told me ‘No’.

My mom (Shannon) told me, “Just don’t give up. No matter how many times you get knocked out, you pass the finish line and look back and say, ‘I did it’.”


What was the hardest part of being a student, mom, and part of a large household?

Just the stress of life in general; a new baby coming, anxiety, depression and trying to get through it all. Making sure my health and mind were ok.  Thankfully, I had a lot of love and support and the motivation of my family to push harder.

Sometimes you want to give up, but thanks to the support of my kids, family and school, I was able to push through.


How did you handle those difficult times?

It was hard sometimes. I had class the very next day after bringing my baby home. I ended up dropping out twice before I was able to complete the program. The school was very compassionate and asked what they needed to do to help me pass the next (5-week) module.

And even though the program was all online, I could go to the campus (Modesto) if I felt like I needed more support or tutoring. Instructors were always very helpful and gave me what I needed in class or with homework. I was never left wondering what to do.


What was your inspiration to keep pushing ahead?

Just growing up, watching my mom struggle, seeing what she had to do for us. She’s smart and was always there for me. She was in the delivery room when I had my child and never left the hospital.


What was the best thing about your Healthcare Management Bachelor of Science program?

Because it was online, it was flexible, and I could manage deadlines and balance time with my children and keep up the household. This was a good fit for me, and I have not regretted doing this, ever.


Any surprises in your program or Career Services support?

Everything they told me was exactly what I got. Actually, I got more than I thought with all the support from instructors and administration.

And my Career Services Advisor, Victoria Krayna, rocked! She was constantly letting me know about job leads She’s the reason I’m at the place I’m at today, she is the one who set me up for the interview with my current employer.


Where did your new career take you?

As part of four support staff for physicians, I’m on the business side of medicine: billing, authorizations, talking to insurance companies and checking patients in to see doctors. We schedule appointments, answer phone calls and emails.

I love my work and feel like I get more out of work than I thought I would when I first got out of school. I’m using what I learned and will be able to use that experience to move up.


Any advice for others who might benefit from career education?

You may be struggling now, but in a year’s time you’ll be a lot further into a new career than where you first started. You’ll look back and see how much you have accomplished.

I can look back to where I started school. I have a good job, a new place to live and I’m moving forward because of my school. It’s hard, but it’s worth it in the end.

I want to show my kids that, no matter how hard something is, we can accomplish it. And other people can, too. I’m grateful for all the struggles and the reward I’m receiving now.


Are you satisfied with the outcome of your education and program?

This is the first year I’ve actually been out on my own. I’m showing my kids – and other people too – that no matter how hard something is, you can accomplish it.

It feels like I’m finally moving forward with my own children, doing what I need to do. I’m only the second college graduate in our family and as I see my oldest daughter about to graduate kindergarten, I’m motivating her to want to do better. She tells me she loves me, that I’m the best mommy and that she is so proud of me that I graduated.  That’s the best compliment.

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