Lancaster Pharmacy Technology graduate finds confidence and a career
At 47 years old, June Bianchi decided she had spent too many years working in retail, opening boxes in warehouses and diffusing customer service issues. She had tried a couple of short-term education routes in medical assisting and dialysis technician that didn’t connect, but did reinforce her interest in a career helping others. “My eyes and heart were open to anything down the road that would let me express my caring, nurturing personality.”
June lived in Lancaster, California, a pretty small town with few career training options. But she was on a mission. She was working for a temp agency and could accept or decline assignments to easily fit around a class schedule. “The whole reason I wanted to go back to school was that I wanted a career, not just a job,” she emphasizes. “I was tired of living paycheck-to-paycheck. Plus, I would have more job security and a higher salary.”
She caught a San Joaquin Valley College TV advertisement and thought she would take a tour of the campus. Two of the career training programs caught her eye: Pharmacy Technology and Criminal Justice: Corrections. “But I didn’t see myself actually hitting somebody with a baton or tackling a dummy,” she admits. However, she could see herself demonstrating her natural empathy and helping others through dispensing necessary medications to maintain health and well-being. She decided that the Pharmacy Technology program was the way to go.
“I have a photographic memory, so learning the specific drugs and their classifications, the differences between generic and brand names and memorizing exactly what they treated would be easier for me,” she says.
She enrolled right away and balanced her work schedule to accommodate her new campus life. She found a lot of support, and new friendships sprang up to make it as fun as it was enlightening.
June was a little surprised to find that students in the medical programs on campus occasionally work together to demonstrate the hands-on elements of their future job responsibilities. “I’ve got a fear of needles, so for me to be the guinea pig for the Clinical Medical Assisting students to draw blood…that was my biggest fear that I had to get over,” says June.
The needle work was important to June’s career as well, as her program instruction required learning how to insert a needle into an IV bag. “That was pretty neat for me, especially if I ended up in a job in a hospital instead of a retail store where I wouldn’t deal with IV bags as much,” she explains.
June’s greatest struggle was just getting enough sleep. “I was still working 40 hours a week, in school 20 hours a week, plus study, and barely getting three hours of sleep a night,” she says. “But I got on the Dean’s List a couple of times, and that kept me going.”
June had lots of support. Her dad Fred, her boyfriend Albert, and lots of co-workers, fellow students and instructors helped her stay on track. “They kept saying, ‘Way to go, keep it up, you got this,’” she says.
Some fears couldn’t be cheered away, however. “My main weakness was the math portion,” she says. “Calculations, equations; I appreciated teachers being there in case I needed anything like moral support, tutoring, verbal encouragement.”
It was important for her to volunteer time to help others, too, through campus efforts to assist students feeling the pressure. “We had a backpack event to give to students in need that we held in the parking lot and passed out a lot of food, and on Career Day I would help out whenever they needed me to be there.”
Taking care of others was instinctive for June, who spent 10 years administering to the medical needs of her diabetic mom, as well as providing after-care for her dad when he had eye surgery. Her selfless nature always seemed to put her needs last.
“My entire life I’ve helped out every member of my family that needed it,” says June. “I’ve been there for moral, emotional and financial support. Going back to school was the motivation I needed to make myself better.”
It wasn’t easy for her to nurture her own dreams and ambitions.
“I had to tell myself that it’s my time to be selfish,” says June. “I made a lot of sacrifices, put myself on the back-burner and made everybody else my main focus. I had to step out of the shadows and do this for me.”
It was time for a little self-love.
June completed the Pharmacy Technology program last November and began her search for work in her new field.
She reflected on the three most important things she had gotten from attending SJVC. “I found the perseverance to overcome what I had to to get there (career). I got the love and support I needed from friends and family; and I’m ready for the overall success that I’m going to have over the next 20 years.”
Now it was time to make it all come together. “I was just putting my resume out there and I felt confident that one day I would get there,” she says. “I wasn’t worried.”
Her job search took a few months and a couple of almost-right opportunities, but June is now happily working as a pharmacy technician at Walgreen’s. She has some sound advice for others considering a career move and the education it might take to get there.
“Have confidence in yourself and the road you chose. It might take some time, but everybody will get there.”
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