Going back to school was always a dream for Kaye Thomas but being from Jamaica made it difficult to get started. Once she found a school willing to work with her, nothing was going to stop her—not even a move across the country.
Kaye immigrated to the U.S. 13 years ago, hoping for more opportunities, especially with education.
“There are certain opportunities that are not offered in our country,” she said. “If I wanted to get a student loan, you could not just apply for one… If you don’t have the money, you just don’t go. Scholarships are not readily available like they are in the United States. It is a beautiful island, but there were not as many opportunities.”
When she finally found the time, it was difficult to find a school willing to work with her. Many institutions don’t accept foreign high school diplomas or college credits. Florida Career College was different.
“With FCC the advisors sat down and worked with me,” she said. “I showed them what I had from my country and asked if they could use it. They said ‘Yes, we’re willing to check it out and do it.’ They were true to their word. In no time I was in school and had my uniforms.”
Kaye and her partner decided it was a good time to downsize and move closer to family. That meant moving across the country, to California, and leaving FCC behind, but Kaye was not ready to give up on her schooling. Her advisors helped her transfer the Medical Assistant Program at FCC’s sister college, UEI College in Bakersfield.
“She did amazing. I used her as an example in my class,” said Carole Chacon, Kaye’s instructor at UEI.
Carole explained, many students begin a program because they are told to go to school. With Kaye, she could tell she wanted it.
“She was a mentor from day one,” Carole said. “She had no problems whatsoever. I thought this will be amazing if it all goes how it’s going now… She made teaching the most rewarding thing it can be. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
It was six weeks before Kaye was able to move and even when she did, she had to commute an hour and a half each way to make it to labs on campus. Still, she was committed. The biggest motivating factor, she said, was her instructor.
“It was her. More than anything else,” she said. “She motivated. She was there, with us. This was a challenging time… She did a lot and not just for me. There was a lot of times when people had family issues… If someone had a car issue, she would help arrange rides. People were losing their jobs. It was a tough time, but she advocated for all her students that she instructed. It was an amazing experience.”
Kaye was able to graduate with honors and was hired for a full-time position at her externship. Today, she has moved to Utah to continue her education. If she had any advice for anyone considering FCC or UEI it would be:
“Do it. For those who are already there, finish. Those who are thinking about it—don’t think. Just do it. Show up. And finish. The support they are going to get, the doubt they are going to get once they get there, if they really want it, regardless of what they have going on. With the support at FCC, they won’t even want to stop.”