Laporcha's personal experience surviving a heart attack inspired her to pursue a career as a Medical Assistant

Medical Assistant Student Has a Heart for Helping Others

Laporcha Nichols doesn’t remember much of the heart attack she suffered at just 17 years old, but it left her with a pacemaker and a unique perspective that she carried with her through her training as a medical assistant at UEI College’s Riverside campus.

From what she’s been told, Laporcha was boarding the bus to get to school when she collapsed suddenly.

“When paramedics arrived, I was already going brain dead,” she said. “They had to shock me back. I woke up in the hospital with tubes all down my mouth. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink, I couldn’t walk.”

Laporcha’s family was told she might never recover but she surprised them all by beating the odds. She was diagnosed with a condition where her heart beats twice as fast as it should. The pacemaker was placed in her heart to shock it back to a normal beat in case of emergencies.

Living with a pacemaker isn’t difficult but it’s not fun either. Laporcha can’t ride rollercoasters, go through metal detectors, or do any strenuous exercise, but the biggest change has been a desire to learn more about the heart and how it works. That desire led Laporcha to UEI.

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“I was really excited, especially with the hands-on and stuff like that,” she said. “I like helping people. I thought, ‘Let me give this a shot and see how it goes,’ and I ended up liking it.”

There were times when Laporcha struggled to get her work done, but she was inspired by her daughter to keep going.

“There were times I didn’t show up to school because I didn’t feel like doing this. It was hard,” she said. “I just decided to finish it through. Every time I look at my daughter, I think I need to do something. I want to be a good role model for her. That’s what pushed me is my baby.”

Laporcha ended up having an opportunity to extern at a cardiologist’s office.

“It was very fun. Me and the patients had so much in common,” she said. “They loved talking to me and I loved talking to them too. It was a really great experience.”

After just nine months in the program, Laporcha graduated with honors and was hired as a medical assistant. She hopes to return to school to become an echocardiogram technician.

“Give it a shot,” she said. “You never know what opportunities you may bump into. UEI College is a good school. It really is.”

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