Late-bloomer finds her passion in Medical Assisting program
Kryshelle Plunkett lost her focus early in her senior year of high school. “I just didn’t want to go to school anymore,” she says. “I lost motivation and felt like going to school and finishing school wasn’t what I wanted to do.”
She spent a few years working in the housekeeping department of a large hospital, where she found an environment she enjoyed. “It was always my passion to be in the medical field,” says Kryshelle. “We have a lot of Medical Assistants and Registered Nurses in our family, and I’ve always wanted to give back and help others.”
Kryshelle lives with her parents and four siblings who know her well, and some of whom decided to help her get onto a career path that met her heart’s desire.
Her dad Jermaine researched high school completion opportunities. “Dad found me a nice program to finish credits and graduate with a high school diploma,” says Kryshelle. “I was seeing all my friends graduate and have their careers and had to ask what I was doing with myself. I was letting time pass me by, so I buckled down to get my diploma.”
Before she knew it, she had her diploma and was at that “what next” moment. Kryshelle’s mom Melita and her younger sister Megan stepped into that career-direction void.
Both were enrolled in SJVC’s Medical Assisting program on the Temecula campus and were urging Kryshelle to check it out. “At first, I was so scared. What am I getting into? My mom was very adamant saying, ‘This will be good for you if you want to get into the Medical Assisting field.’”
Kryshelle made the appointment. “Everyone was telling me ‘Oh, I know your mom and sister; we love them.’ The same love they gave them, they gave me.” She enrolled and started the program just three days later.
But her fears had a strong hold on her. “I had never sat in a classroom for more than 2 hours,” says Kryshelle. Plus, at 26 years old, it had been a few years since she had spent any significant time in a classroom environment.
“My mom felt like she was so much older than other students when she started,” says Kryshelle. “And, this is me right now. But I watched an inspirational Facebook video about a guy in his sixties who got his Bachelor’s degree. There is no age limit on education. This is perfect for me.”
Support surrounded her. At school, Tamara Earnhardt, Student Learning Resource Coordinator, and Richard Moriarity, Medical Assisting instructor, were always close by. “Mrs. Earnhardt would always tell me to stop by her office if I needed help.” And Mr. M, too, gave support from every aspect.
At home, Melita and Megan (who have since graduated) were always ready to help with homework or words of encouragement. “My mom would always say, ‘Don’t stress; you’ve got this.’”
But it was her dad who was a daily necessity to her success. Kryshelle never got a driver’s license, so Jermaine took her to and from school every day. “In 14 months of class, I’ve never missed a day or even been late,” she says, which earned her a Perfect Attendance award. “Basically, that’s his award,” she laughs. “If it wasn’t for my dad, I would not have been there on time, or even started school at all.”
Even with those around her eager to help, Kryshelle shouldered a huge amount of responsibility. When she was preparing for her national exams, she was often up until 3 a.m. studying. “This is it; this is why I’m here – my Golden Ticket. If I can accomplish this, I can accomplish anything,” she would tell herself.
Kryshelle balanced the hard work with moments of pure joy in her program. “There were many times at school when we would just bust out laughing; we needed it. That was the medicine that would make you feel better and told you all was right with the world.” One such moment was when she tried to perform CPR with a severe leg cramp.
“She was an excellent student with a sparkling personality,” says Mrs. Earnhardt. “She was very active in the clubs (Health Occupations Students of America and Diversity Club) on campus, and volunteered her time for various events.”
Kryshelle also volunteered to speak to incoming students at orientation, for which she received a Certification of Appreciation. It was important to Kryshelle to help others overcome some of the fears and uncertainties she had experienced.
Melita and Megan graduated a few months ahead of Kryshelle, but continued to cheer her on during her last months of class. “The most important thing this educational experience gave Kryshelle was opening doors to new opportunities and going into a field that she has been passionate about,” says Megan.
“I believed Kryshelle would be a great fit for the Medical Assisting program because she has a big heart and she loves to interact with people,” says Melita.
It is hard to imagine that Kryshelle ever doubted her ability to fit in the medical industry. “I felt discouraged and I second-guessed myself after a friend told me I was too soft to enter into the medical field,” she remembers. “Then I realized that this career is my chosen path. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what people tell you; you choose what makes you happy.”
Kryshelle is in her externship now and working in an OBGYN office where she prepares exam rooms, takes patients’ vitals, and makes certain appropriate equipment and supplies are available for procedures. “I love the fast-paced work there and am excited that I ended up there,” she says. Externships often turn into offers of employment, and Kryshelle would very much like to begin her career in such a facility.
Kryshelle reflects on her Medical Assisting program experience with full appreciation. “I felt like it was me finding myself and finding something I wanted to do that I was passionate about. It was finding friends that are family now. It was feeling that I set a goal to accomplish something.
Kryshelle may have delayed the start of her career dreams, but she is making it worth every bit of the wait.
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