While Melissa Cobian was attending high school in her native Montebello, California, tragedy struck her family. Her older brother died suddenly at the young age of 24, shocking her entire family. Surviving was her 4-year-old niece, whom Melissa now had to help raise. She took a short break from school, but leveraging the strength of her family, Melissa endured and graduated from high school in 2019.
She began working for her family’s catering business, but Melissa had always thought about pursuing a career in health care. “I was really interested in the medical field after seeing my grandfather battle with cancer when I was younger. The compassionate care he received during his treatment made an impression on me,” she said. “But, I wasn’t sure I could put my life on hold and go away to college for four years with everything going on with my family. Then I learned about UEI and decided to check it out.”
Melissa enrolled in the Medical Assistant Program at UEI College in Huntington Park.
“It was the best decision. I had a great experience at UEI,” she said. “The instructors really know how to teach based on each student. Their hands-on approach was really great for me personally.”
“Melissa was a delight to have in class. She was a team player in the classroom and always the first to volunteer when students needed a practice patient. As she progressed in the program, her confidence grew and she successfully juggled all of her responsibilities at home, work and school,” said MA Instructor Sonia Olaguez.
“As I was getting closer to my externship, there were a few things that I wanted some additional help with and my instructors gave me the one-on-one help I needed with extra time in the labs so that I could be sure I felt ready to work with real patients,” she said. “I am very grateful for that.”
“Melissa was timid about going into externship but she gained the confidence to move forward with additional practice in the labs. Once she did go to externship, she thrived,” said John Espiro, Campus President at UEI Huntington Park. “In fact, she did so well that the externship site hired her.”
“I was thrilled to be offered a permanent job the day after I finished my externship hours. That was such a rewarding feeling,” Melissa said. She is now a full-time medical assistant at a chiropractic clinic in Bell Gardens.
“I’m enjoying my job so much. It is great helping people heal from injuries or debilitating conditions, and the patients are very thankful,” she said.
Reflecting on her time as a student at UEI College, Melissa said that the bond students and instructors form in the program made it feel like a family. “I can’t thank the instructors enough. They make a huge impact for students,” she said. “No matter what type of learner you are, they inspire confidence. They are always by your side to help.”
“I am extremely proud of her. Melissa has the work ethic, commitment, compassion and knowledge to be a successful medical assistant,” Sonia said.
Melissa’s younger brother Caesar took note of her positive experience at UEI College and wanted to explore his options when he finished high school as well. After a campus visit, he enrolled in the HVAC Technician program.
“I brought him to campus with me for a visit, and he decided to enroll the next day. He is doing really well,” Melissa said.
“We are all very proud of Melissa. She utilized all of the support services at UEI, and her professionalism during her externship was also a key to her success,” John said.