This is Karla's remarkable story of resilience and determination as she battled cancer, then returned to complete  the MA program at UEI

Inspired to Serve

Two years ago Karla Ried did not picture herself going to school or working in the medical field but after a whirlwind year, a life-threatening cancer diagnosis and innumerable miracles, she’s a graduate of UEI College Stockton’s Medical Assistant program, a mentor, a survivor and a testament to what can happen when you go where you feel led to go.

It all started in 2022 when Karla had recently quit her job in retail and began homeschooling her daughter. She enjoyed being home, but felt like she still wanted to contribute to her family’s income. Her husband encouraged her to explore the medical field.

“I remember my husband sending me this ad for UEI,” she said. “He suggested going into the medical field. As I was looking through the website I thought it might actually sound like a good idea. I took a tour and I left convinced.”

While she was convinced it was right for her to start the program, Karla admits at first, it was intimidating.

“I didn’t have a love for the medical field,” she said. “As I grew, going to class and showing up every day, my passion and my love grew.”

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Near the end of the program, just before heading out to test her skills in an externship, Karla was diagnosed with cancer. Her schooling had to go on hold.

“Everything was happening so fast,” Karla said. “I needed an aggressive treatment for an aggressive cancer. It was January of 2023 and we were discussing surgery, chemo, radiation. I didn’t think I was going to die, but I thought I was done with the medical field. I put it away for now to care for myself and my health. I needed to drop everything else.”

Over the next few months, Karla’s cancer went from bad to worse. She underwent surgery to remove a tumor from her face and followed that with three rounds of chemotherapy. She nearly lost an eye and had to teach herself to walk, eat, and talk again. After a series of aggressive and quick treatments, Karla got the news in July of 2023 that she was cancer-free.

A few months later, as Karla was still settling back into normal life, she got a call from UEI, inviting her to come back and finish what she started.

“I felt like it was God bringing it back around to me,” she said. “I had left it, I wasn’t worried about it. It was that call that reminded me I needed to finish.”

After so much time in hospitals and meetings with doctors, Karla had a new appreciation for the medical field.

“Everything I have learned built me for what I will walk in,” she said. “I was studying. I had the head knowledge but going through my personal experience and seeing how nurses, doctors, and medical assistants were taking care of me, I got to watch them. I believe God allowed me to go through that so I could have that experience for where he is taking me in the medical field.”

When Karla returned to school she did so with vigor. She was enthusiastic about watching her instructors and learning her skills, and they invited her to become a mentor to her fellow classmates. She graduated with honors.

“I want to bring hope. I want to shine light in the medical field,” Karla said. “I want to be used in the capacity that patients need me. When I was a patient I had some nurses who encouraged me and helped me to keep going on the days when I wanted to give up and the chemo was too much for my body. It was like they were sent to me to encourage me. That’s what I want to do. I want to encourage others. I want to be that hope and that light that helps them to continue another day and not give up.”

Karla’s message to anyone going through a difficult time is to keep on going.

“Last year when I was going through this, I didn’t see that I would be in the place where I’m at now,” she said. “God gave me the faith to know it was not the end for me. To be where I am at right now is a miracle. It’s a miracle to be alive. You may go through trials but whatever comes your way, if you have faith, you can overcome any obstacle that comes your way. What may feel like a dark place, there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

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