One may not realize where they are going, or that they have what it takes to just go for it. Sometimes they just need a little push. For Isaac Silas, a 2019 graduate of Monument High School in Kayenta AZ, and a 2022 Northland Pioneer College (NPC) medical assistant graduate, the education he received, and the resources NPC provided, opened the door and gave him that extra push.
Silas has always been a high achiever. Having participated in the National Honor Society and the Upward Bound program in High School, he is not afraid of hard work or trying new things. While he was in high school, he was invited to attend a summer college preparation program through Upward Bound at Northern Arizona University. He loved it and began taking college classes at NPC’s Kayenta location.
He earned his Associate of Applied Science degree in NPC’s medical assistant program. Not knowing what to do next, Silas learned about a paid, and highly competitive externship program. The Advancing Native Americans and Diversity for Aging research project, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Magee Women Institute at the University of Minnesota, was limited to only 13 participants who would be selected from a pool of national applicants. Silas reached out to NPC’s career services department for assistance with fine-tuning his resume for the application. He submitted it and was surprised and delighted when he was chosen to attend.
According to Silas, although he knew he wanted to go into the field of healthcare, he was not quite sure where his education and training as a medical assistant would take him. The externship changed everything. He learned more than he ever imagined he would. He was able to network with and work alongside some top professionals in the field of public health. Silas and students from large universities such as Duke and Yale participated in researching the aging process, including examining senescent cells in the body, extracting, and studying mice DNA, and conducting fertilization and studying mitosis in sea urchins. Students also investigated holistic approaches in medicine. “The experience was awesome,” Silas explains. “I was able to work alongside top-tier students and professionals from all over the U.S. and dive into investigating the aging process and related diseases including Alzheimer’s, dementia, and hypertension.” For Silas, the program opened a whole new horizon of career possibilities. “It was motivational,” He explains.
According to NPC’s Manager of Career Services, Ben Sandoval, “It’s opportunities like this, that build momentum for students to find the right career.” Silas decided to put himself out there and try something new. Sandoval explains, “Students might think a program like ‘medical assistant’ limits them, but that’s not true. Being a medical assistant builds a foundation you can use to pursue other careers in healthcare.” By participating in internships and externships, students can network and build contacts. They explore their field of study and discover there are many more career paths out there. For Silas, earning his degree as a medical assistant from NPC was the first step toward a healthcare career. Participating in the externship opened the door to a whole new world of possibility. By taking a chance and trying something new, Silas was able to build connections and discover his true passion. He now plans to continue his studies at the University of Arizona and go into public health and research. He looks forward to participating in additional externship and internship opportunities along the way.
“There are a lot of opportunities out there,” Sandoval says. “All it takes is being willing to apply yourself and try.” NPC’s medical assistant program prepares graduates to assist with medical office tasks including, phlebotomy, medication administration, electrocardiography, vital sign measurement, physical and specialty exam preparation, and sterilization and disinfection. For more information on NPC’s medical assistant program, visit www.npc.edu/medical-assistant.
NPC’s Career Services offers support for students applying to internships by helping them develop their resumes, cover letters, personal statements, and interviewing skills. For more information, visit www.npc.edu/career-services or contact Ben Sandoval at (928) 289-6568 or email Benjamin.Sandoval@npc.edu.