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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

PA Student Is First In Family To Complete College

January 17, 2013

SJVC Physician Assistant Student Tabitha Lanning Tabitha Lanning enjoys many meaningful family traditions with her grandparents, parents and three siblings – but a college degree was not one of them. She is happy to have pushed herself to be the first.

Having earned her B.S. in Kinesiology at Humboldt University in 2007 and spent a few years working in a medical environment, Tabitha set her sights on SJVC’s Physician Assistant program in Visalia to take her ‘first’ even higher. “It’s not just being first to do it, but it’s important for me to learn and to participate in this field and to better support my family,” she says. Tabitha’s husband, Josh, is a paramedic, so a shared life in medicine seems natural.

There have been family hardships along the way. “I missed seeing my daughter receive an award during a school assembly and taking my son to his first day of pre-school,” says Tabitha. “Josh is Mr. Mom and pretty much takes care of the kids, house, and cooks and cleans,” she says. But 5-year old, Brynn, and 2-year old Zane will enjoy a more comfortable life for the sacrifices their parents are making right now.

Tabitha has committed herself to the requirements of her PA program – one of which is volunteerism. As Class President, she is responsible for organizing charitable events and PA student participation.  Competing for the national Student Society Award, set her class on fire in their efforts to do all they could to support community events, one of the award criteria. From Sept., 2012 until Jan. 15th all 24 of the PA students participated in most of 28-events, including Visalia Emergency Aid Toy Drive, Kids Fairs, Heart Walks, Visalia Parenting Network and National Rural Health Day. “We wanted to have a big impact on the community and help as many people – especially kids – as we could,” says Tabitha.

Tabitha was a driving force. “Mrs. Lanning’s work in the community and student leadership is exemplary and she serves as a role model for others in her class,” says PA Program Director Les Howard.

Although, it is possible that Tabitha may be better known by classmates for another unique skill.  In response to a request by her Adult Medicine instructor for a volunteer to mimic the sound of an infant’s croup, Tabitha stepped forward and emitted a seal-like bark. “My kids and I like to play a game of making animal noises,” she says.

It looks as though Tabitha is starting two new enduring family traditions.


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