Annabel graduated from the Medical Assistant Technician program at FCC in Margate and is enjoying her new career

Single Mom Learns to Make School a Priority

Annabel Valdez always wanted to work in the medical field, but it wasn’t until the timing was right that she was able to make it happen.

“I was sitting down and asking God for a sign if I should go back to school or what I should do,” she said. “Florida Career College popped up on my phone and I thought, ‘It’s going to start now. I’m going to call up and see what programs they have available and I’m going to sign up.’ And that’s exactly what I did.”

Annabel’s interest in the medical field stems back to when she was young and watched her grandmother take care of her grandfather with Parkinson’s Disease.

“I remember the struggle I saw in my grandma’s face,” she said. “One day I asked if she needed help and that was something that got to me. I love caring for people, especially the people I love.”

Annabel had tried to go to school before, but she left the program when she became pregnant. Her daughter was born with a hematoma, or a blood vessel that grew outside of the body. It required surgery and attentive aftercare. It was difficult, as a single mother, to provide that support.

“I had to give up a lot of things to focus on her and try to take care of her,” Annabel said. “Finally, they removed it and they keep monitoring it every 6 months to make sure it doesn’t grow back.”

With her daughter’s health under control, Annabel knew she wanted to give her the world. She decided she was tired of working as a receptionist, and she wanted to go back to school to provide a more stable future for them both. She enrolled in the Medical Assistant Technician program at Florida Career College’s Margate campus.

“It was a pleasure to have Ms. Valdez in my class,” said Martha Wong, Annabel’s instructor. “Annabel was a very hard-working student. She was always eager to learn and ready to practice the lab procedure. Her attendance was remarkable. She only was out once for her little daughter’s surgery. Annabel is an overachiever. She is a single mother that never let her life challenges interfere with her school grades.”

In the past, Annabel admits, she was one to start school and never finish. This time she committed to be different. She quickly learned the importance of good attendance. Even when she was sick and in the hospital herself, she made it a point to still attend her online classes.

“What kept me going was coming home and seeing my daughter,” she said. “My daughter could see me in scrubs and would call me a doctor. My daughter is my motivation. My number one priority is her. I want to give her everything I didn’t have as a little girl.”

Near the end of her training, Annabel learned of a possible opening at the doctor’s office where she brings her daughter for care. She applied and was able to complete her externship there. At the end of her externship, she was hired.

“This program made me more reliable to myself. I used to think I couldn’t do it, that I would quit,” she said. “This program made me push through that. I met so many good people there, especially the teachers. They told me to push myself and never stop. They told me to continue. It made me feel like I could do it.”

Annabel is not ready to stop learning yet. She hopes to continue her education soon to become a registered nurse. Going to school as a single mother was difficult, but ultimately, it was worth it.

“If you want to go back to school but don’t know how to, think of yourself first,” she said. “That was something I had to think about. Did I really want to answer phones all day for the rest of my life? Keep striving. When your kids look up to you, they’ll see you are doing it. They’ll see you want to give them the world.”