If there is one thing Carnella Stuckey learned from attending Florida Career College, it’s that it is never too late to pursue your dream.
Getting started on that dream, however, took courage. Carnella had spent years working in a pediatrician’s office as a medical assistant but when he sold his practice, she was left without a job. She bounced around to different security positions, dreaded the work, and was eventually laid off during the pandemic. She wanted to return to the medical field but felt like she was too old to try something new.
In the spring of 2021, she got a call from a representative at Florida Career College’s Hialeah campus.
“Upon speaking to him I just felt like it’s time,” Carnella said. “He transferred me to Jessica Martinez and she was amazing, I couldn’t wait to come in for my interview with her to talk more about what course I will choose.”
Though Carnella already had some medical training, she had big dreams of taking her training further. She decided to enroll in the Patient Care Technician program.
“I met her on day one of class, she was quiet, respectful and came across as determined in making a career and life change,” said Alberto Perez, Carnella’s instructor. “Within a short time, she became the class leader, not by being outspoken or pushy, but by example. Students looked up to her and she often helped them with the class, as well as helped me in working with students that needed that extra push. She was very detailed and a perfectionist in all assignments she turned in, always shooting for the highest score.”
Carnella became an ambassador for the school, tutoring other students and helping them learn how the school operates. She also entered the work study program and became an employee of the school, helping department staff with any tasks they needed done.
“You will definitely feel at home and it’s a great learning experience,” she said. “I have definitely helped in every field. If there is one thing your teacher can’t help with, there is someone in another department who can help students who need more than what their teacher can give them. There are people like me who will sit aside as a student ambassador and help students who need the extra one-on-one until they get the hang of it and understand it.”
While she was excelling in her program, Carnella was dealing with a lot at home. She quit her job to be able to focus on school and soon after she became the guardian of her younger brother. The stress of everyday life did not follow her into the classroom.
“As an instructor it is always a pleasure as well as an asset, to have students such as Carnella; enthusiastic, positive, no-nonsense, and just a great human being,” Mr. Perez said. “She performed excellently in class and subsequently as a work-study employee. The road to completing the PCT program was not an easy one, but she overcame all external obstacles in her way.”
Before she knew it, nine months flew by, and Carnella graduated from her PCT program with a 4.0 GPA. Her only thought was “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
Three months later, she returned to FCC to re-enroll, this time in the Health Services Administration Associate of Applied Science Degree program.
“Now I want to be in the field,” she said. “When I get a job, I tend to be the one who wants to be all over the office. I’m very good at most things. Now I just want to slow down and do the office side of the work and possibly be an office manager.”
Carnella was asked to speak to her fellow graduates after she completed the PCT program.
“My negative thoughts before held me from pursuing my dreams and ironically, COVID taught me how to start thinking positively and how to turn obstacles into opportunities,” she told them. “Don’t ever let a negative thought or emotion ever guide you into making decisions because thoughts become actions and actions make dreams. So, I’m here as your student reflector to tell you to dream big because you can do ANYTHING that you put your mind to.”