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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Medical Assisting grad thrives off helping others

January 15, 2015
Medical Assisting graduate Matt Harris
Medical Assisting grad Matt Harris learned that good things come to those who help themselves.

You know the guy. He is the one you reach out to when you need a ride to the airport, a buddy to help you with a weekend move, or someone to help you figure out how to get to that gopher digging up your yard.

Enter Matt Harris. “I want people to be able to depend on me for anything,” he says. “From giving advice, or calling you in the morning to wake you up for work; if you need help, I’m there to help.”

Matt finally focused his innate nature to help others, toward something a little closer to home: himself. “I wanted to go somewhere I could help myself and help others, as well.”

He had spent 10 years as a crew member in the construction business where he diagnosed and treated properties for fire and smoke damage, as well as asbestos, mold and water destruction. In 2006, Matt supplemented that full-time position with a part-time server spot at a local restaurant.

But early memories of volunteering at the hospital where his mom, Cindy, worked in the billing department inspired Matt toward a new career direction in the service of others. He decided to give SJVC’s 7-month Medical Assisting certificate program in Fresno a try.

The first few weeks were a struggle, even with help from his mom and sister, Shana. “I was nervous because I didn’t know how I was going to do,” says Matt. He had not had a very good experience the first time he tried college after he graduated from high school.

“It just didn’t give me the fulfillment I needed,” says Matt. “SJVC encouraged me to work hard, and made me feel like part of the team, part of the family. The other college didn’t make me feel anything. That was a big difference.”

In fact, Matt found a new place to focus a lot of his need-to-help energy by joining various campus clubs.

“Matt volunteered for many on and off-campus events,” says Christen Rodriguez, MA Program Director. “He was never willing to back down from a challenge, and as a member of the American Medical Technologist organization, he was always encouraging fellow students to get involved with campus events.”

Matt was in his element and breezed through the MA program with a 3.9 GPA and the respect of his peers and instructors.

Matt graduated a year ago and started working right away for a local chiropractic office as a back-office assistant. He provides patient intake services and makes sure everything is correct and in place before the doctor sees the patient. He enjoys the medical environment and everyone he works with in this busy office.

“I’m fine with where I am right now, just getting my feet in the water,” says Matt. “With more experience comes more openings, you know?”

You might think that with Matt’s new career and full-time position, he might take things a little easier. But that is not his style. That ‘helping’ thing and spirit of teamwork keep Matt in the middle of the action. He kept his part-time job at the restaurant out of loyalty and affection for everyone there, as much as anything else.

“I haven’t had a day off in a long time,” says Matt, who works 7 days a week. “Work is everything and is like my family. It keeps me motivated and happy.”

When Matt looks into his future, he doesn’t really see himself taking a vacation, slowing down or settling into a predictable routine that includes a lot of leisure. He does, however, see himself reaching higher in his career through more education.

“I’m looking into a phlebotomy course,” he says, “and X-ray certification.”

Matt’s least favorite part of going back to school is buckling down to the research of finding the right school and program. It is not an uncommon roadblock for those who want to further their education, but are not certain how to begin.

Matt spent a lot of time online before he made his move to SJVC’s Medical Assisting program. Looking back, he feels the sacrifice was well worth the effort, and has some advice to share with others who want to get ahead, but who dread the process.

“Just go for it, stay with it, and don’t let anything get you down,” he says. “If you need help, get help; then just hang in there and everything will work out.”

Matt also knows that every bit as important as your effort is your mindset. “Go in with a good attitude, and you’ll come out with a better attitude.”

If you are lucky, there will be someone around you like Matt, ready to give you a hand.


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