STEMming with the Tide: From Elsewhere to Healthcare

Home Features STEMming with the Tide: From Elsewhere to Healthcare
STEMming with the Tide: From Elsewhere to Healthcare

By Sarah Richards

Many students that choose to attend community college do so to figure out what it is they want to do. If one is following the money, they often follow the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) path, which more and more women are pursuing.

For Pensacola State College students, Melissa Carroll and Rebecca Byers, medicine may have been in their blood all along.

Melissa Carroll, 38, is pursuing a Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration. She is a marketer at The Tin Cow on Nine Mile Road; she loves working with people, coming up with creative solutions to market new beers. Her original plan was Occupational Therapy, but life changes pointed her in a different direction.

As the population ages, the need for healthcare rises. “I always find that when people go to a doctor or to a hospital, they are in a very vulnerable state. I am a very empathetic person. I want to be able to help them through any difficult times. But on the administrative level, I love managing people…I love to work with people’s strengths,” Carroll said. “I want to foster an environment of creativity and ideas.”

Carroll wants to be involved with implementing the changes the healthcare industry is going through. “I’ve always had a passion for the medical industry. I’ve always felt drawn to it. Managing love of people and hospitals, and bringing it all together.”

Like many first time or returning students, Carroll doesn’t know exactly what she wants to do in the healthcare arena. “I hope next summer to get an internship,” Carroll said. She has her eye on The Studer Group, which “works with organizations to create a culture of excellence through healthcare coaching and cultural transformation.”

This is Carroll’s first semester back after ten years. “I have real-life experience to draw from. It makes discussion questions a lot more meaningful,” she said. “I feel like I have something to offer to someone that may not have had management experience.”

Rebecca Byers, 25, is majoring in Healthcare Services Management. She graduated in 2014 with her A.A. in journalism, having written articles for The Corsair, writing “hard-hitting news;” now she is pursuing her A.S.

“I realized that journalism wasn’t my calling, and I enjoy helping and taking care of others so I decided Healthcare was the right path,” Byers said. “My mom is a 34-year PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) nurse, and she was my inspiration to be in this field.” B

yers felt that God was calling her to the vocation, but it wasn’t just the serving others part that intrigued her. “I love learning how to use new equipment,” she said. One doesn’t get the chance to do that as much when it comes to writing.

Her journalism background has helped her at work, as people call her “the typing queen”—a skill which comes in handy for administration jobs. Attention to detail has proven to be of value in the form of higher wages, because nothing loses credibility like a misspelled word or a word used in the wrong context, which can be a life or death factor in the medical field. Having a communications degree only adds to Byers’ worth to potential employers.

Byers has another communication skill in American Sign Language. “ASL is a beautiful language,” Byers said, as she has encountered more people who speak it than any speaking language, save English.

As we grow (and grow up), we change, and so do our goals. Community college is that place where we figure out not just what we want, but what we don’t want—where we ask ourselves not so much what we want to do, but what problems we want to solve and what we want to contribute to the world.