After graduating from Bay College years ago, Bay Certified Medical Assistant Program student Clarissa Kell has returned and is on track to earn her certification later this year. Though she has had to adjust to taking college classes again after multiple years away, she said Bay’s resources have helped her thrive.
Clarissa graduated from North Central Jr./Sr. High School in 2013. She then went to Bay for two years, graduating in 2015 with an associate degree in English before heading to Central Michigan University. There, she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2018.
She worked in the journalism field for some time before switching career paths. At that point, she found a position at Dickinson County Healthcare System in Iron Mountain. According to Clarissa, taking care of others has been part of her life for as long as she can remember.
“I have a sister with cerebral palsy, and I do respite work. My mom is a full-time caregiver for my sister, and I provide the ability for my mom and my father to have time away from taking care of Ashley, and I also try my best in helping Ashley with certain goals she sets out,” she said.
Once she spent some time working at DCHS, she decided to focus on this career pathway from then on. After getting some prerequisite courses out of the way, she entered Bay’s CNA Training Program in the fall 2021 semester. She started her second full semester as a student in the program in January 2022.
“This is only the second week, but the classes are going good and they’re exciting,” Clarissa said.
So far, Clarissa said the training program has been both challenging and rewarding.
“It’s a lot of work – I do two part-time jobs while having a full-time class schedule. Getting back into the mindset of being in class again has been difficult, but I was on the recent dean’s list, so I’m accomplishing everything,” she said.
She is especially excited about the clinical office practices and procedures class she is taking this semester. This class, which is taught in person, will involve lab work.
“We’re going to actually be doing mock medical visits and learning how to take vital signs,” Clarissa said.
One aspect of Bay’s Escanaba campus that has made life easier for Clarissa has been its study areas, including the Hub.
“It helps give me a space to accomplish my schoolwork and print off my assignments and necessary materials,” she said.
Clarissa said she plans to complete Bay’s CNA program at the end of the summer 2022 semester.
“We will actually have our externship, (which) entails us going out and getting experience within a clinic so we can apply what we’ve learned in classes and labs prior to gaining the certification,” she said.
Along with completing her externship, Clarissa’s goal is to get certified by completing an exam through the American Association of Medical Assistants around the end of this semester. Once she finishes this work, she aims to take the next step in her career.
“I’m currently employed at Dickinson County Healthcare System … besides my employment, foundations linked to Dickinson have provided me with opportunities to help pay for schooling. With those, I plan on moving into a different position at Dickinson,” she said.
She thanked her teachers at Bay for their role in helping her get back into the college mindset.
“The instructors have been wonderful for myself and my classmates, and I’ve had some instructors really go above and beyond making sure we have all the means to succeed,” Clarissa said.