Raymond Lopez: Charles A. Jones Adult Education

My name is Raymond Lopez. In 2004, I decided to enroll in American River Junior College to better myself with an education and get a better career. After the first semester, I was doing well. I made the dean's list and was on winter break set to return on January 5th to finish my general education. On the night of January 4, 2005 my roommates and I were home-invaded in Sacramento, in an area called North Highlands, by two burglars. They both had guns. I almost lost my life that night trying to save my roommates from any harm. I suffered a severe brain injury and had to have multiple surgeries for brain swelling, bone fragments that punctured my brain, and a serious subdural hematoma. I was in the ICU for 15 days after the emergency surgery. I did not know my mother's name or my sister’s name for about 7 days. The doctor told my mom they would know after seven days if the memory loss was permanent. During those first seven days, anytime someone would walk into my room I thought I was getting robbed all over again. On day eight I sat up in the morning and when my mom and sister came in I called them by their names, “Mom, Jen I'm so glad you're here. I really missed you guys!” The nurses kept telling me I was here for a reason and that I was a miracle, but I didn't understand at the time. I got out of the hospital after 27 days. I was severely depressed and wanted revenge for what those men did to me. I lived with my mother in Vacaville, CA. During this time, it was hard for both of us because I was struggling with the recovery process. It hurt her to see me like this, but she always supported me during this time and told me I could do it one day at a time. I went to therapy weekly at Kaiser to talk to a psychiatrist. I also had to meet two times a week with a speech therapist. I had trouble with vocabulary; I knew the words and had used them before but just couldn't pull them from my memory. I had to go to anger management because of an overwhelming amount of anger from what had happened to me. Before this happened, I played competitive golf at a high level. However, during my recovery when my dad took me to the golf course to putt I missed the hole by 5 feet.  I dropped down to my knees and sobbed about how they beat my golf game out of me. I came to a point where I asked my mom to write down the “Our Father” prayer. I recited that prayer nightly when I would go to sleep like a little boy on his knees begging for help. I also purchased a Bible and read it front to back. I figured if I was going to pray I better know God and his story. One day I woke up and the words from the prayer, “forgive those who trespass against us” stuck with me and meant something to me. Even if I got revenge with those men it would not change what I had been through. After that point, I started to work harder at getting better. I couldn't drive so I would walk 5 miles to the golf course to practice. The recovery took about 2 years with a lot of therapy for cognitive issues and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Day by day I was getting better, but I was super emotional and would cry at the drop of a hat. I stopped taking the anti-seizure medication since I had not had a seizure for a year, and I could drive again. My mom wanted me to stay with her, but I felt like a burden to her, so I moved to Sonora, CA where my dad lived. When I finally got to a point where I could start working again I stayed away from challenging my brain with education because of the trauma, and I was afraid that my brain wouldn't work as well. I took different maintenance jobs and was a laborer for a drywall company. Settling for using my body to work, and not my mind, was good for about 9 years.  

In June of 2014, I fell while working for an apartment complex. I was up about 15 feet on a ladder changing parking lot lights, and my supervisor was holding the ladder when the ladder rotated around the pole. I fell onto a parking curb and broke my back in two different places and shattered the scaphoid in my left wrist. I lived with my fiancé and her two children. She took care of me and drove me to all my appointments. I felt like a terrible man because I couldn't do anything to help her. I felt worthless. After two surgeries, I still have residual lower back pain from my disk and tail bone. I could never return to being a laborer or working in maintenance because of my injuries. I tried to find clerical work in Sonora, CA. I got lots of interviews and job offers but nothing during regular hours. I had several graveyard-shift offers at the casino, but at the time my fiancé was working as a CNA on the night shift. I had to work during the day while the kids were in school and take care of the kids at night while she was at work. I got 3 different interviews at the new hospital. The human resource department really liked me and my resume but without any type of schooling in the medical field it would be hard to get me in. They said sometimes they could train personnel, but they needed someone with experience in admitting right away. 

I decided to go back to school to become a medical assistant to help people, something that I’ve always enjoyed, and use my brain instead of my body to work. The medical field has always interested me being a patient, but I wanted to learn more about it and impact someone the way the nurses and MA’s impacted me during my recovery. The medical field is growing and has great benefits for a family. Working with the public is something I've always enjoyed. I searched all types of schools in the Bay Area and junior colleges. Junior college was the way I was heading but it took longer and they offered one class but another class had a long waiting list. I kept running into that problem the more schools I checked out. Finishing school and getting back into the workforce would take even longer. My friends that work in the medical field as LVN’s for Kaiser told me that the teacher in the medical assisting program at Charles A. Jones was knowledgeable and well known in the field. A lot of their MA’s that worked for Kaiser went to the school on Lemon Hill. So, I looked up Charles A. Jones Adult Education and it really caught my eye because of the teacher, accelerated learning, and the externship hours. I realized that you need experience to enter this field and what better way than to have a longer externship. I attended an orientation at CAJ but didn't get to meet the teacher and ask questions. Even so, I knew this was what I wanted to do. Nobody was pushing me; I wanted this for myself: to have a career that could last a long time. I took all the steps to enroll. I got financial aid being on disability and applied for and received a scholarship to pay the remaining balance. I had to commute about an hour to school from Fairfield, CA, but I was very happy with this school. I started school in October. After meeting Mrs. Bradshaw, she asked me how bad I wanted this and how hard I was willing to work for this. I told her it was my goal to become a medical assistant, and I was tough enough not to quit.  When class started, I began to think I couldn't do it, wanted to quit, and barely kept afloat. Mrs. Bradshaw kept reassuring me that I could do this and to put my life on hold to achieve my goal.  After I got a warning about being dropped from the class and an option to quit before I got too far into the program, I told myself I was not going to fail. I had to study harder, all night if I had to, but I was not walking out that door. I also work full time at night so that makes it harder, but if I put my mind to it I can do anything. I work in a warehouse doing inventory at night. I just walk around with a PDA device and order more product for the employees to build loads. I study a lot with flashcards. I place them all around the warehouse on the pallets and quiz myself as I walk around. I hardly get any sleep, but I figure that it’s only 8 months so I can sacrifice now for the long-term goal. As class progresses so do my grades and test scores, and I challenge myself to beat my last test score. I have accomplished all the back-office tasks, such as blood draws, injections, finger sticks, PPD’s, blood pressures, Snellen eye tests, hearing tests, and EKGs. Now I'm in front office learning the business side of the job, making forms, learning the laws, scope of practice, and nutrition. 

Through everything I've been through and realizing that my brain is stronger than it was before, I have been given a second chance at life. Teachers have the biggest impact on students, and without Mrs. Bradshaw teaching at a higher level to make me more valuable as a medical assistant and pushing me to do my absolute best, I would not be where I am today. I am grateful to have Mrs. Bradshaw in my life, believing in me and reassuring me with confidence that I will make a great medical assistant and a true asset to a company because of my caring nature and hard work. Being Mrs. Bradshaw's student is a blessing, and I am where I am today with her help.  

Teachers are amazing people, and I am thankful for what Mrs. Bradshaw has shown me. I know it is up to me to achieve more at a higher level with the tools she have given me. I will never forget all she has shown and taught me. I want to continue my education to obtain my phlebotomy license, and I want to become an EMT. I want to continue with adult education because of the great experience I’ve had at Charles A. Jones. I would recommend CAJ to any student looking to better themselves or looking to become a medical assistant. I would like to thank Charles A. Jones Adult Education for giving me the opportunity to return to school and change career paths. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to continue in adult education. Thank you.