Happy Veterans Day!! To celebrate the contribution of all US Veterans, we are excited to highlight Capital IDEA Houston alumnus, Destiny Difronzo who served in the U.S Navy as a Nuclear Reactor Operator from 2011-2014. After leaving the service she took about 6 months to decide what came next.
“All I knew at that point was that I wanted to do something in the medical industry; that was just my starting point but soon after I started to see nuclear medical programs. This is when I started to get really excited about the possibilities.”
She always found science to be interesting, loved helping people, and enjoyed working with doctors so when she found the Nuclear Medicine Program at HCC Coleman, she knew she was on the right track. Below is the condensed and edited version of our chat.
What was it like for you when you were first getting started with HCC's Nuclear Medicine Program?
I had recently left the military and spent the summer after thinking about what direction to going in and had a good feeling about the Nuclear Medicine Technology at HCC. I think I was drawn to the medical field because I've always like science in general. I also did a program called HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) in high school and really enjoyed that experience. Once I decided that I was going to apply to the program, I started to take all of the prerequisite courses like some common core class, chemistry, anatomies, medical terminology classes. I had a full year of prerequisites course before I could even apply.
When did you first find out about Capital IDEA Houston?
My professors at HCC did an excellent job of talking about the program and they were always sure to mention it at the start of the semester. It took a while before I applied but I am so happy that I did. I was six months into the HCC program when I finally went to a CIH information session. I had my doubts at first and it was only when I heard one of the presenters tell the group that she knew that everyone was there to secure the benefit from CIH but knew that only a handful would get through the paperwork, that was when I knew that the program was legit.
CIH is not joking about the paperwork; it’s a lot! When I was applying to Capital IDEA Houston, I could see how people would give up, but I want the applicants to know that the benefits to you by far outweigh the hassle of the initial forms. All this made it even more realistic and convinced me of the validity of the program.
What was the biggest support you received?
Beyond the paid tuition, books, fees, uniforms and all the rest, my career navigator was a huge support. Melissa Winfree was a godsend! She came to the school all the time to ask us how we were doing. She was so friendly to the point that to this day we are still friends on Facebook. She really established a genuine relationship with me, beyond the fact that she was the person that I would go to when I had a tuition bill to pay. It felt like I had a real relationship with someone that was vested in my success.
How was the Nuclear Medicine Program?
The most challenging part of the program is that it requires a lot of your attention in the classroom. With any of these medical programs, you have to be in school, but you also have to be in clinicals, and it makes it difficult to have a side job so that you can continue to pay your bills. Programs like this demand a lot so you have to be ready to commit.
Content-wise it was not too bad, so the biggest challenge is the time commitment. You will be doing clinicals throughout the 2 years. Monday through Friday, you are either at your clinical, in class or both. So, if you have a job, it has to be one that is flexible enough to work with your ever-changing school schedule.
What advice do you have for people considering applying to CIH?
Don’t let the paperwork get the best of you! You just have to tell yourself that you are going to spend a full week getting all the documents together but just as I said before, the inconvenience is nothing compared to the benefit that you will receive. Melissa even said it, "most people are losing out on a huge benefit just because of the tedious paperwork.”
Another great piece of advice that came from Melissa is that even though you are a student, you can still go ahead and apply to jobs. I did that a few times and eventually one of the companies I reached out to early in my last semester was the one that hired me.
I started to apply in early spring while I was still going to classes, I took my certification exam and passed it on May 18th and started my job on June 1st. It helped that I had applied to that company even before I got my license. Once you pass the exam, it can be a very quick process getting into your first position, but it helps even more when you establish a relationship with the company earlier in the year. In the end, they were the ones that were asking me when I was going to take my test so that they could go ahead and hire me!
Well played, Destiny! Thank you for your time.
If you are ready to jump start your livelihood, join us at one of our upcoming virtual info sessions to find out how we have helped more than a thousand students achieve self-sufficiency and get the training they needed with a sponsorship from Capital IDEA Houston: www.capitalideahouston.org/infosession