Aprilleah Kostas was a straight A student all through high school, but during her senior year, she really didn’t know what she would do next.
“I didn’t want to go to college,” she said. “When all my peers were applying for colleges my senior year, I just sat there and listened to their stories.”
Aprilleah had grown up being fostered by her grandmother, along with her brother and sister. She didn’t see a clear path for her future, and she feared she would end up like her biological parents.
Things changed dramatically over the next two months. On the day of her high school graduation, she learned her brother had been killed. Two months later, she found out she was pregnant and then lost the pregnancy.
“He was my best friend slash father figure growing up because I didn’t have a dad,” she said. “He practically raised me, and I looked up to him. After all the death and experiences I’ve had since 2022, it changed my whole life. When I had a miscarriage, it showed me how unready and unprepared I was to have a child. I decided to get my act together and go to school.”
Aprilleah had always dreamed of entering the medical field, and had shared that dream with her brother, so two weeks after her miscarriage, she enrolled in the Medical Assistant program at UEI College in Phoenix.
“She was one of the youngest students in the class, but she was so mature,” said Shirley Crews, Aprilleah’s instructor. “She would get up to assist me or anyone else. She was always so helpful. She was great at anticipating needs.”
While Aprilleah did well in her classes, she was still dealing with a heavy load of grief. On the days when she wanted to quit, pouring herself into her classes was a way to cope.
“If I didn’t stick with the program, I would have been lost and I would have lost myself,” she said. “The best part was meeting new people and trusting myself in new skills that I didn’t think I would be able to do, like drawing blood or giving injections. I had to tell myself to trust in myself. I knew if I trusted my body, my body would trust my mind.”
“She was at school on a regular basis and completed her assignments, and in addition to that, she took initiative,” Ms. Crews said. “She would help other students and help me as an instructor. She didn’t give up. She had a strong determination.”
Aprilleah’s determination helped her make it through the program. She plans to stick with medical assisting for a few years and then work her way up to a new position.
“I like meeting new people and hearing amazing stories and gaining knowledge on other things I never knew before,” she said. “It feels so good. I’m so proud of myself. Never give up. Even if you are going through something negative right now, look at the big picture. This is just a chapter in your book.”