Becoming A Medical Assistant, for Myself and for My Children
Told by Klarissa Carrillo
My Propel story starts with COVID. When COVID became a thing, it was hard. I was working at a call center, and we went from working in an office — seeing everybody, talking to people and all that every day — to working from home. I was clocking in at home, I was clocking out at home, and I was taking care of my kids. I have two kids: one boy and one girl.
I’d done a data entry job as an insurance processor for 3.5 years. And I was over it. I just didn’t want to sit behind a computer for 8.5 hours a day. I wanted to do something different every day. I wanted to help people.
I’ve always thought about being in the medical field because my mom worked with mentally disabled people when I was a kid. And she worked with this one specific woman; I absolutely adored her. We had the best bond ever.
This woman only did sign language, but I bonded with her. I was the one who took time to understand her. Every Saturday we would hang out, and we would take her to the beach sometimes. And we would just hang out, like that was my big sister. I would say she was probably 25, and I was probably 8-years-old. And I liked it. That’s when I knew I wanted to help people.
So when my cousin told me about Propel, I decided to apply. The Propel team asked me if I was prepared for the bootcamp. I told them I have my two kids, so I have to be prepared. There’s no other choice. I can’t be a little kid anymore; I’m only getting older. My kids are getting older. I want them to see mom getting a career. I want them to see how I got my career, the struggles, the cries, the tears, the happiness, all that stuff.
After the bootcamp, I had to take a course of American Training Center, which was the medical assistant course to get certified. It was extremely hard. COVID was still happening, so working from home, taking care of the kids, and then doing the whole course and the homework. Sometimes the teacher would assign us ten chapters at a time.
Every time I would have my meltdowns, Faith was the number one person I’d go to. She was my coach at Propel. The minute she heard me, I would just start bawling, crying. And she would say, ‘Take a deep breath. We’re going to get through this. You’re going to be a medical assistant.’ She was always reassuring me that I was going to be a medical assistant, that I was going to be a great medical assistant. She always made sure that she told me that I was a hard worker and that I’m going to be a medical assistant. And here I am.
Being a medical assistant, you’re doing everything. Literally, you’re doing EKGs, you’re running pregnancy tests. You’re working on messages being sent to the doctor, then you need to call patients. You’re doing something every day. You work with the same co-workers, but you see different people, different patients every day. So it’s a lot better than data entry and just sitting behind a computer.
I would say my attitude changed a lot. I feel if I had the attitude that I had before, and I brought it into the medical field, I’d be out the door. I had a really bad attitude, and I didn’t care. I didn’t care about anything, I just didn’t care.
Now, I love my job. I really love my job. With my last job, I was always complaining, ‘I hate this job, I don’t want to do this anymore, I can’t stand it.’ I would wake up, ‘Ugh, I don’t want to go.’ Now when I wake up, I’m, ‘Okay, let’s go, kids! Get ready!’ Now I make a lot more money than I was, too.
I am very proud of myself. Because I did it for my kids. Because of them, I have a reason to keep going, to go harder and say, ‘Don’t just stop at medical assistant if I don’t want to. If I want to keep on and I see myself as a nurse, as a doctor, keep going, don’t stop.’
I definitely want to become a nurse. I can say 100% that I am going back to school to become a nurse.
This one thing brought me a lot of joy: when I got my new car, my daughter told me that she was proud of me. An almost-five-year-old telling me that she’s proud of me because I got a new car. It just brought me a lot of joy, because she’s watching, clearly. She’s watching me work hard. She’s watching me.
The most valuable thing that I’ve taken from this Propel experience is the courage to keep going, not to give up, to just think of my kids. And when I’m having a tough time, just think of them and just keep pushing forward. I’m doing this for them. I want a career for them. I think we all need to give our kids better than we had.
Watch Klarissa share more of her story here.