Dec. 2020 – When Courtney Streeter was a high school student at Charlevoix High School, she knew she’d have to work a bit harder than her peers to succeed.

“School was hard for me,” said Courtney, now 21 and a recent graduate from North Central Michigan College’s medical assistant two-year program. “I would get discouraged. I had some obstacles to get around, and I had to learn to advocate for myself and find what would work for me. I had to study harder and work harder to understand than other students to succeed.”

And that she did.

With the assistance of Liz Nachazel, Career Preparation Specialist with Char-Em ISD’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department, the two charted a course for Streeter’s future that would meet her goals and interest of entering the medical field.

“Mrs. Nachazel worked with me through my high school years to help me get job shadowing opportunities in medical occupations, and she helped me understand what I’d need to do to get set up for college,” Streeter recalled.

Nachazel’s work, and that of Char-Em’s CTE staff members, involves helping connect students with career and college readiness opportunities as the end of high school approaches, particularly those who might have more challenging situations than their peers. “I’ve never met another student with the motivation and work ethic that Courtney has,” said Nachazel. “It was a treat to work with her.”

During a recent Zoom interview, Streeter shared her path to success that might help inspire other high school and college students to follow their own dreams.

After taking two years of health occupations, a CTE course, at Charlevoix High School, Streeter said she felt extremely prepared to begin the associate’s program at NCMC after graduation in 2018. She credited the instruction by her high school health occ teacher, Mabel Carson, a Registered Nurse (RN), for that preparation.

“Mrs. Carson was really awesome. She gave us great tips and knowledge, especially with anatomy and medical terminology, which I use on a daily basis,” Streeter said.

When she began college classes she felt well-prepared, particularly in the areas of medical terminology and understanding various diseases. “It really helped me to not feel as stressed out in college,” she said.

She graduated as a registered medical assistant in spring of 2020. In August 2020, she landed a full-time medical assistant job at Digestive Health Associates in the Burns Clinic in Petoskey, a position offered to her promptly after she interviewed for the open position. She credits the quick job search to her education at both NCMC and in high school, and preparation with “soft skills” like interviewing tips, how to present oneself appropriately, and preparing answers for anticipated questions in advance.

She grabbed several job shadowing opportunities during her summers that also provided a big boost to her career aspirations. She spent time in the fusion center and medical surgery unit at Charlevoix Hospital, and also as a medical assistant at Charlevoix Primary Care. As she undertook these experiences, it became clear that she was moving in a career direction that fulfilled her.

“There are a lot of job opportunities in medical assisting, if I want to move up I can. There are so many opportunities to help people and the job outlook is strong,” said Streeter, adding she may pursue the next step of becoming a Registered Nurse (RN).

She’s finding the work in the digestive health field interesting and engaging. She also said the increased safety measures in the office and clinic give her confidence in her safety during the ongoing pandemic. “I feel really safe and they are making sure everyone is wearing a mask and getting the proper screenings,” she noted.

Nachazel said she is proud to see Streeter’s success. “She was one of those amazing kids that was going to go far in life,” she added.

Streeter had some advice for other teens starting on their own post-high school paths, as well: “There are times when it might seem overwhelming and discouraging, but I just kept plugging along and it paid off. You don’t know how far you can go until you push yourself.”

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