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From Confidence to Career: NOCE’s Leticia Reyes Forges Her Own Path Student Success Profile
North Orange Continuing Education (NOCE) student Leticia Reyes has learned a lot over the last couple years. As a pharmacy technician student, she learned what goes into preparing medications for patients; as a business information worker student, she learned how to function as part of a administrative office team; and as a medical assistant student, she has learned what it takes to be a professional in a medical office. But most of all, she’s learned she is capable of doing anything she puts her mind to.
“My education has been a challenge and a journey,” says Reyes. “But NOCE has supported me every step of the way. They even sent me a care basket when my father-in-law passed away. It seems small but it shows what NOCE is all about. They really care. That’s why I’m happy to do interviews like this whenever they ask me—NOCE has given me so much and this is my way of giving back.”
Leticia’s educational journey at NOCE started with a severe ear infection—her daughter’s. Motivated in part by a desire to understand the medications her daughter was being prescribed, Leticia entered NOCE’s tuition-free Pharmacy Technician Certificate Program. But as she neared completion, Leticia realized that the late hours often required for entry-level pharmacy work might pose a challenge. As a married, mother of four school-aged children, Leticia’s family needed to take priority and she was forced to rethink her career path. And this wasn’t the first time she’d had to do that.
Prior to restarting her education at NOCE, Leticia had worked for almost ten years as a customer service representative at a local tux shop. Having maxed out her career advancement and salary potential, she knew it was time for a change but wasn’t sure what she could do. Like many adult parents, Leticia knew she needed more education to find a better job, but at the same time she also needed to make a living and take care of her family. NOCE’s tuition-free programs and flexible scheduling were the perfect fit.
“Because the classes are tuition-free, NOCE is great for people that want to change careers but aren’t totally sure what they want to do,” says Leticia. “The best part is that NOCE’s programs prepare you for real jobs that you can go out and get right away and that can lead to real careers.”
Because she already had significant customer service experience, Leticia shifted to the Business Information Worker 1 (BIW 1) certificate in order to update her skillset and build out her resume.
Only seven courses long, NOCE’s BIW 1 certificate program prepares students to perform entry-level office and administrative support in a variety of job positions, such as general office clerks, retail salesperson, customer service representatives, receptionist, and information clerks. Students learn basic oral and written communications; basic computer application skills, including beginning Excel, Word, and Outlook; fundamentals of computer systems; and critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
But just as Leticia neared completion, the pandemic hit. And it hit hard. Her father-in-law had COPD and Leticia needed to help take care of him. Sadly, Leticia’s father-in-law died in November, but this experience taught Leticia something important—she was a capable medical caregiver.
“I’ve always been interested in the medical field but I’ve never been sure where I would fit, or if I could do it,” says Leticia. “When my father-in-law got sicker, I started helping them out and I learned that I was more capable than I thought. Before, I would always just question myself. I didn’t think I could do it.”
Leticia has since learned otherwise. After completing the BIW 1 certificate program, Leticia entered and completed the Medical Assistant Certificate program. As a result of her hard work, Leticia landed a job at UC Irvine’s student health center.
Academically and personally, Leticia’s growth hasn’t gone unnoticed. According to NOCE instructor Afraim Sedrak, who teaches the Computer Concepts and Applications Level II course among others, Leticia (like many NOCE students) has shown herself to be a self-motivated, dedicated, and courageous student. “Leticia achieved growth on the academic side by finishing the course successfully, on the technical side by becoming more skillful in the online environment, and on the personal side by planning and successfully making the best out of her time despite challenging circumstances.”
NOCE’s Medical Assistant Certificate Program prepares students for entry-level positions as medical assistants in administrative and/or clinical settings. Students learn how to collect and input patient medical history, manage patient files and reports, process insurance claims, assist doctors with physical exams, and many other career-focused skills. At the end of the program, students have all the knowledge and experience they need to sit for the National Health Career Association’s Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CCMA) examination. As of this writing, there were 625 job openings posted on Indeed.com in Orange County alone with salaries ranging from $16 to $39/hour.
In addition to her classes, Leticia credits NOCE’s Career Services Center and Student Leadership Program with helping her develop the professional skills necessary to succeed in Orange County’s competitive workforce.
“The Student Leadership Program helped me with a lot of things like getting me comfortable on Zoom which is where all my interviews were,” says Leticia. “It really boosted my confidence.”
Because her own elementary, middle school, and high school-aged students are returning to in-person classes, Leticia has since had to leave her UC Irvine job. Still, she isn’t worried about what’s next. Like her state-approved certificates, the confidence she’s developed is something she will always have.
“NOCE has been nothing but a wonderful experience,” says Leticia. “If it weren’t for their career education programs and support services, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m so thankful for all the wonderful staff that have supported me like family. I’ve learned so much and made some great friendships along the way.”