In early 2021, just a few weeks after enrolling in the Medical Assistant Program at UEI College in Encino, Mariah Monge received the news that her parents had tested positive for COVID-19. Both were hospitalized as they fought the disease. Unfortunately, her father did not survive and her mother continues to suffer from debilitating side effects.
“It takes a special kind of passion and strength to finish school despite losing a parent to the pandemic. Mariah has had strength and so much more,” said Elizabeth Murello, MA Instructor at UEI’s Encino campus. “I remember when she lost her father, she called me and she was devastated. She didn’t know how she was going to continue with her studies and her personal life.”
But Mariah persevered thanks in part to the culture of support in Encino. Her Medical Assistant classmates rallied in support, along with instructors and staff, and she returned to her studies. She completed the MA program, graduated, and now works as a full-time medical assistant.
“Without Ms. Murello’s support, I wouldn’t be here right now,” Mariah said. “The students also gave me so much support. It was a very difficult time, and continues to be difficult, but I know I will always have their support whenever I need it.”
“I just love helping patients, and I have a passion to help others. I think that’s what keeps me going,” she added.
Mariah got some unexpected financial help along the way to graduation. She was selected for a memorial scholarship from the California Association for Private and Postsecondary Schools (CAPPS). She was the recipient of the Sue Fleming Memorial Scholarship for Allied Health, which provided $3,000 toward her tuition – a monumental help, Mariah said.
Campus leaders organized a special ceremony to present the award to Mariah in front of fellow students, faculty, staff and her fiancé.
“It is a wonderful pleasure to present this award to such a deserving student,” said Jackie Azizyan, Encino Campus President. “Mariah, you have overcome many obstacles to achieve success, and this is very well-deserved. Congratulations!”
CAPPS established memorial scholarships in the name of individuals that played a significant role in education in California. These individuals all had a common goal of helping students achieve their dreams, and Sue Fleming is one of them.
Sue Fleming began her career in Allied Health in 1986 when she enrolled in a medical assisting certificate program at Western Career College. She became an instructor at the school, and then department chair.
After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree from National University, Sue rose through the Western Career College ranks, first as dean of education, then as executive director of the Sacramento Campus. In 2004, Sue was promoted to operations director for the Central Valley campuses. Susan Marie Fleming passed away in 2005.
“I am very thankful for this scholarship,” Mariah said. “I never expected this. I wasn’t prepared to go back to school, but I’m glad I did. UEI College has a lot to offer, and without all of the support here, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”