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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

No Time for Self-Pity

October 17, 2013
This April Valerie joined Fresno campus graduates on stage where almost 200 graduates celebrated their achievements. It was a moment she savored.

Given the choice of rolling over or digging in when things get tough, Valerie Coe is going to grab a shovel. And it is that kind of tenacity that got her through some very difficult times over the last year.

As a Nuclear Decontamination Technician, Valerie spent a lot of time on the road. It wasn’t a bad life, but when her mom, Carole, told her she had cancer, every moment away from her was too long.

“I hung up my hard hat and spent the next two years taking care of her and helping her check things off her bucket list,” says Valerie.

With Carole’s passing in September, 2012, “My life just imploded,” says Valerie. “I had to look at this as a reason to focus on something else.” Her new focus was education, something her mom had made her promise she would continue one day. Valerie found SJVC’s Online Medical Office Administration program and started classes that same month.

Still very much grieving for her mom, classes, homework and studying were a struggle.

“It was mentally very challenging,” says Valerie. “I was living on coffee and couldn’t make my brain focus. Sometimes it would spring a leak and I’d have to put away the books and cry for awhile, then mop it up and go back to work.”

Valerie got out the shovel.

“This wasn’t my first rodeo,” the 57- year old says. “I have a lot of drive, tenacity and training to stick with it.”

In fact, it did not take long for her “twenty-something” classmates to “figure out that I picked it up pretty easily. I was not bashful about offering my opinion or assistance,” says Valerie.

“Valerie was not only a great student but a team player and leader,” says Theresa Paserb, one of her instructors. “Whether within the discussion forum or live lecture, Ms. Coe extended assistance to her fellow classmates.”

Valerie wrapped up her MOA program with flying colors – colors she later proudly wore on her graduation cap and gown.

Her accolades include a Perfect Attendance award, Dean’s List (5 times), 4.0 GPA and the honor of representing her class as Valedictorian at graduation. Valerie also joined the National Technical Honor Society and took and passed the certification exam to become a Nationally Certified Medical Office Assistant.

This April Valerie joined Fresno campus graduates on stage where almost 200 graduates celebrated their achievements. It was a moment she savored.

“Mom had a bird’s eye view,” says Valerie. “She may have crossed over but my promise to get an education didn’t go with her.”

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