Jo’ani Paulino has always had big dreams of working in the medical field but after she graduated high school, she was not eager to jump right back into college.
“After high school I felt so exhausted and felt no motivation to work towards my goals, even though it was something I wanted so badly for myself,” she said. “I’m glad that I have a good support system who knew what my goals were in life and who pushed me to start. They knew it would make me happier and make me more satisfied.”
Jo’ani’s mother is a Medical Assistant and was aware of her daughter’s dreams to enter the medical field. She encouraged her to look into training programs and move forward with her career, rather than continuing the food service job she was working. With a quick search, Jo’ani was led to UEI College in Tacoma and decided to enroll in the Medical Assistant program.
“I really wanted to get into nursing eventually, but I never could have gotten myself to go back to school,” she said. “When I was coming out of high school, I really wanted to give myself a break but when I was giving myself a break, I realized I was giving myself way too long of a break that I had no motivation to go back to school. I just knew that this would give me a better future. It would also set me up for success and I knew I would be happier in the long run.”
It took some time to get back in the swings of things, but with a supportive instructor and motivated classmates, Jo’ani was able to get back into the rhythm of being in school.
“The best part of the program was the environment it was in,” she said. “I had a great class. It would always light up my mood. You could come in having a bad day but when you come into school it’s welcoming, you get straight to the point of doing what you want to do. You come to school to do something you want to do for yourself.”
“She was amazing,” said Heide Martinez, Jo’ani’s instructor. “She was very helpful to incoming students, current students, helpful to me. She was a role model. She was a leader. She was my ambassador too.”
Jo’ani managed to achieve a perfect score in every course of the program and was hired by her externship site at a small medical clinic. At the campus’s first graduation, she was named a valedictorian.
In her message during graduation, Jo’ani encouraged her classmates to seek for happiness first.
“Success isn’t going to come easy, and everyone has obstacles that set them back but whatever that was while they were in school, it didn’t set them back,” she said. “They reached the day to celebrate a new beginning for them. Working in food service, I knew it was something I didn’t enjoy doing but it was something to get me by. I wasn’t happy doing it, I just didn’t care. I knew it wasn’t going to make me successful. Versus now, I’m working in the field, and I feel happy. I feel successful. I look at my future as bright.”