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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Online student matches natural abilities with Medical Billing & Coding profession

December 26, 2016
Medical Billing and coding student Shaneeka
Sheneka tells herself: “Stay focused and do not let anything deter you from your goals. In life, there will be stumbling blocks that get in your way and cause setbacks. Just remember a setback is a set up for a major comeback. Keep pushing!”

Sheneka Brassfield has no doubts about her career calling. It is something she has been doing all her life: Caring for others. Only now, once she gets the degree she is earning in SJVC’s Online Medical Billing and Coding program, she will be considered a professional in the field of helping others.

Sheneka has spent several years providing support and services to those in need. Her work experience ranges from Medical Assisting, Medical Technician, Unit Clerk and Medical Administrative Assistant, to providing foster care to children who might need her the most. She’s played to her own strengths of nurturing others.

But nothing prepared Sheneka for the level of giving that would be required of her when both her son and daughter were born with special needs.

15-year-old D’Mani was in 6th grade before he was diagnosed with narcolepsy, a sleep disorder. “He would sleep all the time and I would have to ask myself if my son was depressed,” says Sheneka. “Doctors ran a series of tests and he was diagnosed with idiopathic narcolepsy.”

D’Mani struggles to stay awake in school where a quiet classroom can trigger his condition. “The school has him on an individual student plan to try to keep my son engaged. They allow him to have headphones to always have something talking in his ears. Sports have really helped him, and he loves computers and music. He loves school, too, and is upset when he misses a day.”

Sheneka’s 4-year-old daughter D’Lena had her first grand mal seizure at 2 months old. “At her worst, she would have about two a month,” says Sheneka. The medication she took to control them also slowed her developmental progress. “She was 2 years old before she spoke, but now you can’t stop her from talking,” says Sheneka. “Now she can write her name, write her numbers and will start school when she is five.” D’Lena has not had a seizure for two years.

Instead of causing Sheneka to retreat from any plans to extend her education and secure a place in a medical environment, her family responsibilities and caregiving have strengthened her career resolve.

“I believe it is my calling in life,” says Sheneka. “I spent several years working in an assisted living environment and saw that a lot of the people there had family that just placed them there and forgot about them. I spent long hours with them and developed a bond; they had a special place in my heart. I just did what I am supposed to do as a caring person.”

Sheneka followed her heart and instinct to provide for others, but it wasn’t easy at first.

“I was so nervous about the math course,” remembers Sheneka. “I hadn’t done math in so long and was suffering from anxiety; I was even going to drop the entire program because of the math! I had to get out of my own head. I hired my own personal tutor, which makes a world of difference, and I came out soaring high with an A in both math courses.”

“Sheneka has distinguished herself in class by performing at the highest level possible,” says Chiana Ghant, Student Advisor. “However, this accomplishment only scratches the surface of her abilities and character. She is one of those rare individuals who works very hard and diligently, but does so with a great enthusiastic attitude.”

One of the best things about the Online program, for Sheneka, is the flexibility of her study schedule and the convenience of “attending class” from the comforts of her home. “Today I haven’t combed my hair, but it doesn’t matter,” she laughs.

Sheneka has maintained a steady presence on the Dean’s List and recently became a member of the National Technical Honors Society. “I figured this would be a great star on my portfolio when I do apply for positions in the medical field,” she says.

Employment prospects are at the top of her efforts and a recent internet job search confirmed what she already knew. “I see lots of hospitals looking for Billing and Coding, and jobs in the ER and Operating Room require that you have a year of work experience as a coder,” says Sheneka.

Most important right now for Sheneka is to be an inspiration for her son and daughter. “I try to be a role model for my kids,” she says. “When my son sees me succeed in school, he wants to do the same thing. I want to graduate at the top of my class and be an inspiration to my children.”

Sheneka is living the advice she would give any student struggling to complete their education. “Stay focused and do not let anything deter you from your goals,” she advises. “In life, there will be stumbling blocks that get in your way and cause setbacks. Just remember a setback is a set up for a major comeback. Keep pushing!”

Sheneka’s mom, Dorothy, had encouraging words during times of hardship and struggle that Sheneka now repeats to her own children: “PUSH: Pray Until Something Happens.”

Powerful words to remember and pass along.

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