Spectrum Health Care Professionals Education Scholarship helps Amanda Constant focus on classwork.
After years of starts and stops, Amanda Constant has crossed a finish line, with the help of the Spectrum Health Care Professionals Education Scholarship.
Constant was taking medical assistant classes at Ross Medical Education School when her world was turned upside down. Her husband became sick, and the family learned he would need a heart transplant. He subsequently lost his job as a truck driver because Department of Transportation regulations prohibit commercial drivers who have cardiac problems.
“When he lost his job, our entire world was flipped upside down,” Constant said. “We lost everything we owned, had to move in with family, sell our cars to pay bills, fundraise to make ends meet, and I had to drop out of school because we just couldn’t afford it any more.”
But Constant knew that she was only postponing her dream of a medical career. Her parents never furthered their education after graduating from high school, and she saw how that limited their employment options.
"After my husband got sick, I knew I had to step up and thought GRCC was the perfect option,” she said. “I found the Medical Assistant program and knew that was it. My goal was to get through the program and make my family proud.”
A federal Pell Grant helped with Constant’s tuition, but she still had the expenses of books, supplies and the transportation costs associated with a 45-minute commute to class.
That’s where the Spectrum Health Care Professionals Education Scholarship stepped in. Receiving it meant that Constant didn’t have to juggle classes and a full-time job.
"This scholarship meant everything to me,” she said. “It meant that my dreams of working in the medical field were about to come true. It meant that I could start to provide for my family. It meant that my family would be proud of who I was becoming."
Spectrum and GRCC created the Spectrum Health Care Professionals Education Scholarship in 2016 to encourage and assist students interested in health sciences or health careers. The need-based scholarship originally targeted students pursuing careers in Associate Degree Nursing, Practical Nursing, Occupational Therapy Assistant and Radiologic Technology programs, later expanding to include the Medical Assistant program. During the 2019- 2020 academic year, $306,893 was distributed to students.
But the scholarship is just the latest way that Spectrum Health has supported GRCC students. Spectrum has long partnered with the college on a number of programs designed to address the long-term need for health care professionals on the Medical Mile.
These programs include an accredited medical assistant apprenticeship, standardized community health worker training, job shadowing and internships. Spectrum Health also is committed to mentoring nursing students, and provides individual internships and clinical sites for several nursing schools, including GRCC. Hundreds of nursing students complete supervised clinical practicums at Spectrum Health facilities annually.
Constant’s successful completion of GRCC’s Medical Assistant program is a milestone for her and her family. “I started and quit school so many times before, I was so proud to finally get through it this time!” she said. She works for Spectrum in urgent care, but she plans to return to the classroom when her children are older.
“Medical assisting is a stepping stone in my career path to eventually become an RN who works in the cardiac ICU with patients like my husband,” Constant said.
The difficult times she and her family have been through help them appreciate the good things in their lives now, she said.
"It was a reality check and a changing time in our life," she said. "It inspired me to go to school and make my family proud. It made it so that we knew what rock bottom was and how far we have climbed since that day.”