To be prepared for class, Carmen Cameron needed three simple things -- and one really difficult thing.
"All I needed for class was a piece of paper, a pen, a pencil and more than anything else was just having my mind ready to listen and learn," she said.
"Sometimes we have a lot of stuff going through our minds, but when you come to school you have to be totally free and just allow yourself to manage all the stuff going into your head -- because it's hard," Cameron said. "It's hard, I'm not gonna lie."
For Cameron, the first three months of her medical assistant program at American Career College-Orange County was the hardest part. She would come home from class, exhausted and defeated, and drop her books on the floor. Cameron said she wanted to quit but her family wouldn't let her. Her husband would constantly encourage her, she said, and her two daughters would sit down and study with her late into the night.
"One of my daughters is in college and wants to be a physician's assistant. At the same time, my 17-year-old wants to be also in the medical field," Cameron said, "so as she's learning, I'm learning because a lot of the things that I'm learning, she's being taught too. So it was kind of a little help at the same time for all three of us."
What were you doing before enrolling at ACC?
I was at home being a homemaker mom for almost seven years. Prior to that, I was working with special needs kids, the kids that are coming up from high school, trying to train them to be independent on their own. Prior to that, I used to work for the Long Beach Unified School District. I used to be a recreational aide and I still do office work, translation, working with the principal, helping at meetings. I was doing a little bit of everything.
What was the hardest part about going back to school?
Time management, because I was being a mom, I was a homemaker and I was being a wife at the same time so I had to find time for studying, for tests, for homework. It was just a lot of pressure at the time. But once I got my time figured out, I'd maneuver around. Everything was so much easier. My family made it easier, I can say that.
What advice do you have for people thinking about attending ACC?
I want people to know that change is possible and all you have to do is just don't give up. Don't give up on your dreams. There's always going to be things happening in your life but don't give up. Don't give up. That's the best advice I can give. ACC has given me an opportunity to finish school, great teachers, I mean I couldn't ask for more.
Could you ever work with your daughter when she's a physician's assistant?
I would love to. She's really really good. I actually would do it -- and she asked me that question. Actually, she goes 'Mom, would you ever want to work with me?' And I said, 'I think I would.' And she goes, "I don't think I can handle you." She said, "you're just too much!" That's what she tells me! I said "OK," but she's very very lovely. She's out there doing it.