Posted on Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A single mom of two children, Christina McKenzie struggled to find a meaningful job that also paid the bills. She had been working for three years as a personal care aide but was feeling unfulfilled until a friend told her about the Clinical Medical Assistant (CMA) program at Patrick Henry Community College.

“I’d always wanted to be a Physical Therapist, but the college didn’t offer that program. So, I met with the Workforce Programs Specialist who told me about a similar program that would train me to become a CMA instead.”

After several months of classroom instruction and clinical rotations, McKenzie graduated at the top of her class and began a full-time position with Martinsville Urgent Care on July 9, 2016. She was also hired to work part-time with Brighter Day Health. McKenzie said the entire experience was a “blessing.” 

“I took the program seriously and put my all into it because I wanted a real career, not just a job. I wanted to be something more.”

As with any goal that’s worth achieving, there were times when McKenzie got discouraged.

“I never gave up. I prayed and held on strongly to my faith. My children were my motivation. I didn’t want them to get the impression that it’s okay to quit when things get tough. Instead, I taught them that if you put your mind to something and work hard, you can and will make a better life for yourself.”

As a result of McKenzie’s training and certification as a CMA, she now earns 60% more than she did as a personal care aide. It appears that more good things are in her future as well. Patrick Henry Community College will add a physical therapy training program to its offerings in 2017. Asked whether she will go back to school for that program, Christina said. “Absolutely. I’ll be the first one to sign up!”

To find out more about this and other short-term training opportunities, visit our Workforce Credentials Grant Program page.'

Virginia's Community Colleges

Created more than 50 years ago, the VCCS is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 270,000 students a year in credit and workforce courses.


  1. ?

    Anne Mcdonalds

    Kudos to you! It is always pleasure to read such motivational stories.I was in the same situation as you in 2001 and managed to graduate in 2004 with merits. Now I am reading for a masters in Economics. All I am saying is, hang on there, it is possible to make your dreams come true! Good Luck!

  2. ?

    PMP Certification In Michigan

    Thanks so much for sharing your story! It is inspiring to see how you have managed to balance family, work and an education! You have surely showed your kids the importance of working hard to succeed!


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