Medical Assistant UEI College Garden Grove

Leap of Faith to Become a Medical Assistant Helps Build a Community for Single Mom

For the past few years Tammara Dunn has had enough to get by, but she felt like she wasn’t truly living.

Tammara is a single mom of three kids. Her youngest has special needs and she has always been content staying home and caring for him. As he turned five and began school full time, it provided Tammara the opportunity to reflect on what she wanted for herself.

“I want a career. I want something to make money, make friends and retire eventually,” she said. “I want to be financially independent and not always have to worry about paying a bill or putting food on the table. I thought it was time to step out of my comfort zone and make a change. No one is going to make the change for me.”

Tammara looked into several different schools before settling on one near her home, UEI College in Garden Grove. The flexible hours would allow her to go to school at the same time her son was in school, and the convenient location meant she could still be close by if anything came up. The school also offered a program that felt like a perfect fit for Tammara, the medical assistant program.

“I have a passion for helping people in any way that I can,” she said. “Even when my own kids get sick I like to try to figure out their illnesses and be their nurse. It’s always been in my blood to help people. At my age, I didn’t want to wait any longer. There was nothing stopping me. I have a special needs five year old and that’s a challenge but it was the perfect opportunity for me to go to school because his schedule and my schedule finally aligned for going to school. I jumped on it.”

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Starting school was just the opportunity Tammara needed. She had a chance to meet likeminded people and start to do something for herself.

“My outside life is stressful,” she shared. “I’m still planning to move into a home someday. I have a car that needs work. I don’t have many friends or family nearby. Everything was fine for a while, but I was looking around and seeing other people succeeding and affording nice things and I thought I want that too. I want to be better for my kids and myself too.”

Tammara observed that she is one of the oldest students in her class. At first, that was intimidating, but she has learned to embrace it.

“The other students in my classes are cool,” she said. “They look up to me. I don’t think like a mother figure, but as someone with more knowledge and life experience. Any time I have a question they are there to help me out too. I just enjoy going to labs every day, putting on my scrubs and doing vitals. It makes it worthwhile. I know I have my goal and I’m heading towards it. You have to start somewhere. Every time I walk into that classroom, that’s what I’m doing.”

Tammara still has a ways to go to complete the program, but the experience so far has already helped her come out of her shell.

“I love being a part of the medical field,” she said. “I know it’s still school but it feels like a real office with all the equipment and tools. I know I’ll be good at what I’ll be doing. I have a lot to offer to a practice and I like to learn.”

For anyone else feeling stuck in the life they’ve always had, Tammara says if she can find a way to move forward, so can they.

“For me it was just waiting for the right moment,” she said. “Everyone’s situation is different but wait for the right moment and go with your gut. Take that leap. You can’t lose anything from doing that. You can’t go wrong going back to school.”

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