Cheryl Valdez drove 300 miles one way from her Western Kentucky home to walk in graduation at Hazard Community and Technical College in May and she says the trip was worth every mile. “It was one of the most fulfilling moments of my life,” she said.
At age 53, she has a fulfilling career as a Licensed Practical Nurse at Western State Hospital. She completed her degree online from HCTC and she gives the utmost praise to faculty, staff, and administrators who helped her all along the way. She holds an Associate in Applied Science degree, certified in Billing/ Coding.
She passed the RHIT exam on July 9, making her a Registered Health Information Technician.
Her higher education educational journey began in 2009 when none of the KCTCS colleges offered the degree she was seeking. She went as far as she could and then transferred to for-profit university where they offered the degree. She was in her second semester and had racked up $15,000 in students loans. Then she heard the news that HCTC was offering the degree she desired online. She was happy that her education could continue at an affordable price.
She said the administrators were “absolutely wonderful” in helping her with contacts, financials, and scheduling. “Anytime I had a ‘panic moment’ I was quickly reassured and pointed in the direction I needed to go.”
Cheryl appreciated the instructors for being readily available. “And I am a person who has a lot of questions. The instructors were helpful each time. They were always encouraging.”
A Creative Writing course led to her being published in the 2015 issue of Kudzu, the college’s literary magazine. “I would have never thought of myself as a writer, or even capable of such, until I was encouraged!
She describes HCTC faculty as “wonderful, supportive, encouraging, knowledgeable, and patient.”
She qualified for the John Smith Scholarship. She made two new friends who she not only studied with and was able to walk with graduation. “We still keep in touch! We have planned an annual event in May from here on out.”
“I love the online experience. I have test anxiety and testing in the comfort of my home and pajamas was great.”
Cheryl enjoys her job as a Review Specialist in Physician Peer Review at Western State Hospital. She does Abstracting for Core Measures, she assists with coding, and she handles the Interdisciplinary Record Review committee. She has been encouraged by management to apply for the position of Medical Records Director. She was offered a job in New York, but turned it down so she could be closer to Hopkinsville home. However, that offer could pay up to $100,000 a year.
Her previous work was as a Psychiatric LPN for18 years. Her future may involve teaching.
Cheryl recommends HCTC to others, with this advice: “Understand online courses require, almost mandate self-discipline! There were days after work I did not want to go study and some days I didn’t, but I caught up on weekends. Do not confuse yourself with thinking you can still have an active lifestyle and have online college; there were many weekends I sat home studying! And don’t fool yourself into thinking you can ‘cheat’ on tests. You will defeat yourself in the end. Studying whether in class or online is a must.”
Her educational journey includes dropping out of school in the 11th grade as an A & B student. “I had a difficult childhood and dysfunctional to say the least with a mother who moved around a lot,” she said. She grew weary of always being the “new kid” and with each school’s different curriculum, she was always a few points behind. She then earned her get GED at eight months pregnant. “After two kids and a divorce behind me I went to LPN school in 1992, graduated in 1993 passing my nursing boards.”
Want to be the next HCTC success story? Begin by enrolling today.