Dominic is a former MMA fighter who trained for a new career as a medical assistant technician at Florida Career College

From MMA to MAT: FCC Student Pursues Medical Assistant Technician Career with Passion & Aggression

Dominic Jones was a professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter for five years. So, it should come as no surprise that when he began planning for life outside the octagon, he focused his attention on fields that would allow him to be hands-on, active, and a leader while making a difference in people’s lives.

Dominic took the first step toward achieving this career goal when, during the spring, he enrolled in the Jacksonville Medical Assistant Program (MAT) at Florida Career College (FCC).

And, while he still has a ways to go before graduation from the program, Dominic’s already making his mark through his commitment, leadership and classroom success. Thus far in his FCC student career, he has a 4.0 grade-point average (GPA) and is a FCC Student Ambassador.

For Dominic, this is simply who he is – a goal-driven man, father and fighter who puts his all into everything he does. It’s the living embodiment, he says, of a simple yet effective quote by one of his heroes, world champion wrestler and Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs: “Dream big! Work hard!”

“I dream of becoming the best Medical Assistant Technician I can be, and I’m going to work hard to make that happen,” Dominic said. “I want my own path, and I want to leave a great legacy behind.”

From MMA to MAT Training

Dominic began practicing martial arts with his dad – his best friend and greatest motivator, he says – when he was 7 years old. He got into wrestling, as well, and grew to compete at a high level in both sports.

So, not long after graduating from Oakleaf High School in Florida, where he was the school’s first-ever state qualifying wrestler, he began seriously training in mixed martial arts (MMA). This developed into a professional career that lasted five years.

While he loved competing, however, he knew MMA wasn’t a path of longevity. This became more evident to him following the birth of his first son.

Dominic currently has three sons ages 2, 1 and 1.

“I really didn’t have a plan in life to do anything,” he said. “MMA alone wasn’t going to be enough to provide to myself and my family. When I had my son, I knew I wanted to do better for myself.”

As the man who’s always pushed him, Dominic’s father was the first to encourage him to take action toward a new career once he left MMA. Dominic was motivated to establish a new direction for his life, but he wasn’t sure how to start.

“I was at home playing video games, and my dad texted me saying he wanted to talk,” Dominic said. “He said, ‘What do you think about learning HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning)? It’s something new, something different, and you may just be great at it.’”

His own research of local HVAC schools led him to FCC’s Jacksonville campus, where he got the rundown on their program. He said the HVAC field didn’t feel right for him and his future, but another program at the school spoke to him and his desire to help people, especially those in emergency situations.

“I wanted to help save lives, so I decided to do the Medical Assistant Technician program,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about the field when I started it, but I love it. I love my classmates, I love my teachers, and I love the staff that’s been helping me through my journey. It’s been amazing.”

Motivated by Faculty, Family & Future

Dominic, now 27, dove into the MAT program as he would have the MMA ring to face a challenging new opponent: passionately, aggressively, and with 100 percent effort.

At FCC, that meant not just attending every one of his classes and earning straight-A’s, but also becoming a leader in the classroom – one who inspires, encourages and helps other students to succeed.

“I like to make people happy, and I talk to everybody,” Dominic said. “Young students in there who can’t talk or don’t say anything, I encourage them to get out there and be a team player. I want to bring that positive energy in there. I want to tell jokes, make people laugh, help with homework, help people take vitals… We’re all in the same room and on one team, and we can all get this done.”

Dominic added that his MAT instructor, Sunshine Snipes, has kept him on his toes since starting his classes … and in a good way. In fact, he said she’s the best teacher he’s ever had.

“She’s amazing. She’s always there for us and goes above and beyond for us,” he said. “And, she doesn’t play. She’s very direct, she’s strong, and she makes sure we all do well. She makes sure we all understand what we need to do before we go out in the field. She’s very passionate about the job, and she takes good care of us.”

“Dominic is an exemplary student here at FCC,” Sunshine said. “Dominic is truly passionate about his new career in the medical field, and I see him being very successful. He is a student ambassador and a true team player in every aspect. I am truly proud to be part of his journey.”

Dominic says his biggest motivators are his sons. While all three of them are still too young to understand their dad’s current journey or how it’s affecting his life, outlook and career possibilities, the joy they provide him makes his lessons all the more significant.

He even enjoys testing their vitals on occasion as a hands-on way to stay in practice while interacting with his boys in a fun way. It’s all still part of his drive to keep practicing and keep improving so he one day reaches his final career goal.

“I want to get my EMT license so I can work in the ER, ride in the ambulance and stuff like that,” Dominic said. “I don’t want to settle. I want to keep going. I’m 27, and I’ve got some time. So, I’m going to keep going and stay hands-on so I can become part of the action and secure a great future for myself and my family.”

“Dominic has really thrived at FCC and is an inspiration to other students here in Jacksonville,” said FCC Jacksonville Executive Director Joe Davila. “His hard work and determination are a reflection of his devotion to pursuing his personal goals, and we know he will do very well in his career.”