Delvinair Washington had always dreamed of being in the medical field but when life became too much in 2019, she almost gave up.
Delvinair had been working full time and caring for her two young children, her aging grandmother, and her mother who was fighting Stage 4 breast cancer when she first enrolled in the Medical Assisting Program at United Education Institute (UEI) in Morrow. She hadn’t gotten too far into the program when her mother’s illness took a turn for the worse. Soon she was balancing spending time at work and then school and finishing homework in the hospital ICU as she sat with her mother.
When both her grandmother and her mother passed away within two months of each other, she dropped out. The stress had become too much.
A year later, now pregnant with her fourth child, Delvinair can recall the moment when she decided she would not give up.
“I literally woke up one day and said I was going to enroll back in school and no matter what happens, I was not going to quit,” she said. “I wanted to make my mother proud and I wanted to fulfill my dreams. I had wallowed in the tragic loss for so long. I knew that was not what I wanted. After a while, I just pulled myself up with the support of other people in my family and decided I was going to do it no matter how hard it got.”
‘I KEPT GOING’
Going back to school again did prove to be challenging. In addition to the responsibilities that continued at home, Delvinair found herself having to relearn a lot of what she had completed before. She leaned heavily on the support of her instructors, Dr. James Bush and Marvis Davis, to get her through.
“The instructors I had were so amazing, even with the struggles I was dealing with in my personal life, at school it was like a family,” she said. “They were there for me in every way possible. When I was going through emotional things, they were always praying for me and speaking positively to me. They understood and they were just there, completely.”
In her mind, Delvinair kept picturing her children and her mother. She knew this was a career she wanted and that they would want for her.
“I love helping people,” she said. “It’s the same thing I’ve done and loved my whole life. It was instilled in me from a very young age. My mom was the same person. She was the family caregiver. My grandma was the family caregiver. It’s always been a core value that was instilled in me… I had my children watching me, I knew I had to keep pushing forward.”
Over the course of the program, Delvinair fought through a high-risk pregnancy and a serious car accident, never earning less than a B+ in her schoolwork.
“I kept going. When I say no matter what obstacles are thrown my way, I kept going,” she said.
‘NOW I’LL STOP AT NOTHING’
The biggest lesson Delvinair learned from UEI was to have confidence in yourself.
“I had doubted myself. I didn’t believe that I could do it,” she said. “I don’t know why I doubted myself so much, but my confidence and my self-esteem have definitely been affected by going back to school.”
At the end of 2021, Delvinair was offered a job at the site where she completed her externship.
“It was the biggest sigh of relief and weight off my shoulders,” she said. “I felt full of confidence. The most important thing I had wished for my whole life, I had done. I felt completely accomplished. Now I’ll stop at nothing.”
As she reflects on her time going to school, her best advice to future students is to persevere.
“I would tell them, just like I had to learn myself, no matter how hard life gets, no matter what is thrown at you, you will be OK,” she said. “You will survive. You will get through it. In the end, it will be worthwhile. The reward is so much greater than the fight.”