A hairdresser since the age of 18, Kiana Boyd said she was ready to make a significant change in her life following the birth of her second child. At 34 years old, she was now the mother of a baby and a teenager, and she was ready to hit the “redo” button when it came to both adulthood and career.
The problem was, she had never earned her high school diploma. It’s a fact that was threatening to derail her before she even got started … that is, until she noticed a sign.
“I was driving by my mom’s house one day, and I saw a [UEI College] sign that said they would help with my high school diploma,” Kiana said. “That was a big thing for me, and it’s what motivated me to go to UEI.”
Inspired by her mom who for years worked in home health care, Kiana enrolled in the Medical Assistant program at UEI College’s campus in Oceanside, CA. While there, she overcame early educational struggles, separation anxiety from her baby, and a bit of sleep deprivation to become an honor roll student and successfully graduate from the program.
Today, she works full-time as a medical assistant at an urgent care family practice in Oceanside. And, while she’s already considering further education and training to become an X-ray technician or an anesthesiologist, Kiana says she doesn’t have to look very far in the past to see a version of herself that was uncertain, struggling, and a little scared.
“But, my stars aligned perfectly,” she said. “I felt like I was in the perfect class, and I felt like at UEI, I had the perfect people around me to help.”
FOLLOWING IN HER MOM’S FOOTSTEPS
When her youngest child was born, Kiana said she wanted to do things differently in her life. That started with getting her high school diploma.
“Just getting into that mindset was important to me,” she said. “The troubles of life … I went through a lot growing up and in my adult life, as well, and just getting in that mindset was big. And, UEI offered the high school diploma, and that intrigued me.”
So did UEI College’s Medical Assistant training program, which would allow her to work in the same field as her mother.
“My mom’s in home health care. She’s done it my whole life,” Kiana said. “I’ve helped her out, and so I know the ins and outs of home health care, and I know it takes a special person to be in that field. My mom’s so dedicated, and she’s great at what she does. She has a big heart. I’ve seen what she’s done to help other people, and it makes me interested in helping, too.”
That interest helped keep her motivated early in the program when she was, in a sense, relearning how to be a student. After all, it had been nearly two decades since she was in school … and that was before kids.
“It was kind of tough in the beginning just getting my routine down, learning how to balance sleep deprivation with the baby and trying to sleep,” Kiana said. “It was definitely a challenge, but I was on the honor roll quite a few months in a row, so that was a good thing.”
And, if she were to fall behind a bit, Kiana said she could rely on her instructor, Jomar Jean, to push her.
“My teacher was amazing,” she said. “I feel like he went above and beyond with just helping and encouraging me and staying on all of us. Mr. J would push me and say, ‘We’re here for a reason. Let’s do this!’”
“Kiana was one of the hardest working students I had,” Jomar said. “In the classroom, Kiana never failed to do her best, and her perseverance was unmatched. She would always keep the class entertained and fun.”
FROM STUDENT TO EXTERN TO HIRE
Like her classes, the externship portion of Kiana’s education started off a little rough. She tried out a couple of different sites, and she eventually settled on an externship at an Oceanside-based urgent care family practice facility.
And, once settled, Kiana said she wasn’t content on simply going through the motions of work.
“I feel like what set me apart from other people was instead of me just being there and doing what they required me to do, I asked a lot of questions,” she said. “I wanted to make it feel like I was interested in more than just doing vitals and things like that. And since I would ask questions … they took a little more time in teaching me the things I would ask about.”
The head physician at the site took notice, and Kiana was offered a full-time medical assistant position following the completion of her externship.
She continues to work at that clinic today. And, she continues to have greater aspirations for both her education and her medical career, this thanks to UEI College giving her a chance despite Kiana’s initial lack of confidence.
“There’s a lot of young people who go [to UEI College],” she said. “As an adult who hadn’t gone to school for years, just getting the mindset and the courage to get back was huge for me. And, having a good support system at the school is a lot of help. It’s motivating.”
“Kiana has the leadership presence which will serve her well in the future,” said Alex Poyuzina, Campus Present at UEI College in Oceanside. “We are all proud of her perseverance and grit and celebrate her successfully starting her new career as a medical assistant.”