Medical Assisting student uses new skill to save her son’s life
Voynne (Vee) Ramlakhan had no idea that exactly one day after earning CPR certification in one of her Medical Assisting program classes, she would use that new skill to save her 10-year-old son Isaiah’s life.
It was 1 a.m. when Vee went downstairs to find that Isaiah had sneaked into the leftover orange chicken in the fridge. “I came around the corner and saw that he was holding his throat and tearing up; he was not making a sound,” she says. “His airway was cut off completely, and he had this look of fear.”
Vee did not panic, but sprang into action, performing the she had recently mastered in class.
“I was scared, but I didn’t freak out,” she remembers. “I felt so numb during the procedure. I had to do what I knew how to do.”
Finally, two large chunks of chicken flew out of his mouth. “Afterwards, I freaked out,” says Vee. “This was my own son.” The rest of the family came downstairs and shared in the happy outcome of this near tragedy.
Vee could easily not have been in a position to help her son. She had spent many years in retail sales and management before deciding the time was right to pursue the career of her heart’s desire. “I always wanted to be in the medical field, but it is hard to get a job without the experience or any schooling,” she says. A husband and four children kept her too busy to make either of those things happen.
When she felt that Felicia (12), Angel (11), Isaiah (10) and Amelia (8) were finally old enough to manage more easily on their own, Vee enrolled in the Medical Assisting program available at the Temecula campus.
She liked that the program was accelerated and that she could start right away. “I wanted to get my degree in one shot, and community college classes had a waiting list and no guarantees,” says Vee. “Here I can get my Medical Assistant certification and knock my Associate’s out of the way. This is the best for me right now.”
Vee also appreciates the mix of students. “There are all different ages, from kids who just got out of high school to older ones – my peers. They are all just like me saying, ‘this is just the right time.’”
Still, it is a bit of a transition to go from working mom to a full-time student. “It had been so long since I had been in school, but I got back into the groove of things,” says Vee. “At first, you have all this homework and get overwhelmed. Now it’s not as stressful.”
Vee especially likes the hands-on experiences in the lab. “Drawing blood, injections, vitals EKGs…it wasn’t hard for me,” she says. “The book part, memorizing a lot of numbers, has always been my weakness.”
With a current 3.43 GPA, Vee is holding her own.
“It is so exciting to see the impact of our training on our students,” says Shannon Koh, Academic Dean. “She (Vee) is so thankful that she took this class and had the training to save her son.”
Vee feels more confident knowing that her instructors are always there to help her succeed in her program. “The relationships with the instructors and the students surprised me,” she remembers. “If you don’t quite get something; they take the time to explain it in a way that we can grasp it. If you’re struggling and reach out, they are more than willing to help you out.”
Vee keeps her eyes on the prize. “I feel like once you have your path set and have your degree or certification, there will always be a job and you can take it anywhere. People need medical help every day, so there will always be a need for medical assistants, nurses and doctors.”
But, first, she has to get there from here.
The hardest part is always finding the time to be both a good student and a good parent and spouse. “It’s not just school, but balancing school and home and my kids’ schedule,” says Vee. “That was pretty overwhelming. I didn’t resolve it; I’m still going through it,” she admits.
She feels her family’s support at every stage of her education’s progress. “They’re my main supporters,” says Vee. “My husband (Chan) doesn’t say much, but he listens a lot and supports me when I’m down. He doesn’t know exactly what to say or how I’ll take it, so he just listens.”
There is no doubt that Vee will complete her program. “This has always been a life goal, and dropping out was never a thought. But, second, I wanted to show the kids that you can raise a family, have a life and still go back to school.”
Is all the balancing, the separation, the stress worth it? “It had better be worth it,” she laughs. “All the stress this is putting me through, all the extra grey hairs! I know for a fact, this will work out.”
In one very important way, it already has worked out. Vee’s education has already benefitted their family. “Every time I think about it (Isaiah’s choking), I think about ‘what-if,’” says Vee. “And, every time he eats, we remind him to eat slow.”
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