Leanndra Hampton is very familiar with medical facilities.
Growing up with sickle cell disease she has spent her fair share of time in urgent cares and hospitals.
Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder. It causes intense, sharp pain that can be triggered by bumping a body part too hard, exercising too much, getting a cold or even experiencing stress. The pain is so intense it requires a hospital visit.
If the experience has taught her anything it is that the right staff can make the whole situation much more bearable.
“The nurses and all that have been a big part of my life,” she said. “There were times I wanted to give up but my nurses and the people who volunteer and the atmosphere kept me going. The hospitality you get, not because they have to do it but because they genuinely want to be there and talk to you, it makes a difference. If my mom or sister weren’t there at night, I’m at the hospital by myself. If you have good nurses and good medical assistants coming by daily, it gives you a different comfort than the nurse who doesn’t want to be there, gives attitude and forces you to do things while you are sick. I’ve experienced both points of view.”
I KNOW THAT I WANT SOMETHING DIFFERENT FOR MYSELF
“I just wanted to get started with life experience,” Leanndra said. “I wanted to see if it would open new doors. I was working a regular job. I thought maybe this could be a possibility for me to get a career. I feel like I’m a wounded healer. I can really sympathize and understand different points of view. I’m also a helping person.”
What really attracted Leanndra to the school was the chance to get her high school diploma through a third party partner with UEI. She had been a junior in high school when the COVID pandemic hit and with all she had going in life, she did not graduate. She had attempted to get her high school diploma in the past, but it never happened. She was ready to change that.
“I know that I want something different for myself,” she said. “I know I was capable of more than working fast food restaurants. In the medical field, it was a familiar feeling but this time I’m on the inside.”
‘THIS PROGRAM HELPED ME FIND ME‘
Leanndra’s health did make attending school difficult, but she kept pushing through.
“She was a joy. She always had such a positive attitude,” said Lisa McGreer, Leanndra’s instructor. “I know there were days when she was just not feeling well but she never projected that out to anyone. She was always very personable and no matter what she was going through she had that positive outlook. I don’t think a lot of kids in class even knew what she was going through because she never really talked about it. For her to have those challenges but to be productive and not look for someone to feel sorry for her is just inspirational.”
Sometimes the pain of sickle cell disease can be triggered by stress. That was a big risk for Leanndra going back to school, but she tried to keep a clear head by journaling and spending time in her religion. She also noticed her little sister looking up to her and she was inspired by her mother as well. She found more motivation the further she got in the program.
“This program helped me find me, in a sense,” she said. “Medical stuff is not just about dealing with people. You’re learning about yourself as well. You may encounter tough things but are you going to let that effect you for the rest of the day? You have to do a lot of work on yourself being in the medical field.”
At the end of her program Leanndra was hired as a medical assistant. She plans to return to school soon to become a nurse.
“You will become sidetracked as you try to change your path in life,” she said. “Life will try to throw you off to get you back in the same place. Learn to be open minded and not only see with your eyes and ears but to have them open, willingly. UEI can help you get a start and open some doors for you. UEI gives you that eye opener and that push in your step.”