Sequoia had to put her education on pause for personal reasons, but when she returned to FCC she was motivated to succeed

Returning Student Powers Through Tough Times

Sequoia Evans comes from a long line of medical professionals and always dreamed of joining them, but it took a few tries to get past all the hurdles life threw at her.

Her journey with education began at the end of 2019. At that time, her son was going to school and she decided to do something for herself. She had always dreamed of entering the medical field like her mother, grandmother, and sister all had before her, so she enrolled in the Medical Assistant Technician program at Florida Career College’s Houston campus.

“I just wanted to do something with my time,” Sequoia said. “I thought since I didn’t have something to do, why not go back to school? I was working doing security, but I wanted to branch out and go further in my career with something different.”

Unfortunately, the timing was rough. When the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, she lost her transportation and her motivation. She left the program after just a couple months.

More than a year later, Sequoia’s situation had changed a lot. As a single mom, she was helping her son with virtual school full-time. While this was a challenge, it also reminded her about finishing school for herself.

“I thought while I’m home helping my son with homework, I could be doing work myself so that’s what I chose,” she said. “I wanted to find something to occupy my time.”

Things at Florida Career College had changed as well. Classes were more hybrid with only a few days on campus. The changes made it possible for her to do more from home but still gave her the hands-on experience she had enjoyed in the past.

“I enjoyed it all from the very first time in 2019 when I started,” she said. “At first, I didn’t want to go back. I went back and rules had changed, and hours had changed. I was skeptical if I wanted to stay. I just said in my head, ‘You can’t give up now. You did all this work, you took chances, you barely made it to school. Finish it.’”

Life as a single parent is never easy and just because she had come back didn’t make school easier the second time around. Sequoia struggled at times, but she also kept pushing through.

“It was hard,” she said. “I was going to school, sometimes on not even a quarter tank of gas. I missed plenty of days but tried to do my best to stay focused, stay on the right track and finish school. My instructor was very family-oriented, so she was a good support system for me. She could see the capability in me and said let’s get it out.”

“She was a good student,” said Menisha Carter, Sequoia’s instructor when she re-enrolled. “She was very outspoken. If she had any issues, she would bring them up to me. She was a hard worker. When Sequoia came back, she learned a lot from the second go-round. She told me she hadn’t learned a lot from the first time and I told her my goal was that she would be ready by the end. She was. She had a lot of obstacles, but she overcame them.”

Sequoia credits her instructors with helping her push through.

“She went through a lot of personal issues,” said Debra Ray, Sequoia’s instructor near the end of her program. “The best thing I could do as an instructor was to be there for her, support her, but she made it through. I’m absolutely proud of her. It was tough, it was difficult. She came in, she tried to do her makeup work when she needed to, and we got her through it. The biggest thing about her is her perseverance. She never gave up even though she was going through a lot.”

Through it all, Sequoia kept her son in mind. At the end of her externship, she was offered a full-time position.

“Do not give up,” she said. “It’s easy to start something but it’s hard to finish it. You have to have the encouragement and support to push you where you want to be. Giving up is not an option. Anybody is able to do it. If you feel like you want to achieve, stick to it. You will see a change as the time goes by.”