PVCC Alumni employed in the Health Sciences professions shared their insights and perspectives relative to their educational and professional journeys.
The inspiring Panelists and their current areas of career focus:
- Diana Berdoza, Dietetics/Nutrition
- Jazzmyn Bissenas, Management
- Danny Escobar, Fitness & Exercise Science
- Adrionna Hatfield, Health Technology
- Sami Pierce, Nursing
The panelists responded to the following questions:
Was there a key moment in time that influenced you in your career path? If so, please share.
Diana - My background is as a Medical Assistant, but I was always interested in exercise, fitness and nutrition. My family said it’s your passion; you should make it your career. I met with the Nutrition Program Director at PVCC. I was able to pursue both degrees at PVCC.
Jazzmyn - I started in Computer and Information Technology and then Professor Russo told me about the Healthcare Technology Program. She was very encouraging. I did an internship in Data Analytics.
Danny - It was not really one key moment. It was an accumulation of moments and key people. I had a Track & Field scholarship. Competition, injuries, life instances and being on the coaching staff were all a part of trying to “find my way” and led me to where I am now. I’m an accumulation of 1,000 great people.
There are many different career paths in the Health Sciences profession. How would you advise students on how to choose their path?
Diana - I love what I do. My passion is nutrition and fitness. It’s like I’m not working, I’m helping people and at that point it’s not really a job. “If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life.” Choose your passion!
Jazzmyn - I really enjoy my job. Go for the stars; don’t be afraid to apply for the job you want.
Danny - Understand and recognize where you feel you can make an impact in people’s lives. At the end of the day, we help people with their quality of life and personal health. Find where you feel you can be a positive influence. By helping others you end up helping yourself. I believe in reciprocity.
What do you know now that you wish you had known before you chose your career path?
Diana - I wish I would have known about the program sooner. I would have started sooner and changed my career earlier. I have no regrets; I helped a lot of people as a Medical Assistant.
Jazzmyn - After getting my Bachelor’s degree, so many more doors opened to me. I wish I would have not waited. I wish I knew more about the objective dynamics early on.
Danny - I wish I would have been more in tune with the social dynamics of things. In the real world, dealing with all kinds of people, you have to gain their trust and motivate them. They are coming from different backgrounds, so it helps to understand the social and psychological things that are going on.
How have your experiences at PVCC either directly or indirectly impacted the work that you do?
Diana - All instructors in DTR were really good. Anthony Kern, PVCC alumnus, was one of my preceptors. He changed my mind 360 degrees about community health. I’m grateful I was able to meet all of these people and they influenced what I am doing now. As a Nutrition Associate, I am impacting lives.
Jazzmyn - All of my instructors at PVCC in the Healthcare Technology Program directly impacted my work. They were all encouraging and uplifting and told me to keep going and to follow my dreams. They made me feel like I can do things and encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and not limit myself.
Danny - The experience of going to PVCC put me in a place where I had to grow. I was away from home and my immediate support system so I felt like I was on my own. Put yourself forward and learn how to work and communicate with others outside of your bubble.
What advice would you like to share for current students interested in Health Sciences related professions?
Adrionna - Pay attention to everything, even if you think it won’t apply. I was shocked how interconnected everything is. Knowledge and exposure give you talking points. You go through one door and five more doors will open. Keep the doors open and explore them. Take advantage of local professional organizations. Don’t burn bridges, start building your network now.
Sami - Fall in love with whatever you are doing and learning at the moment. These are tools you can use somewhere else. We get to love people in Health Science professions. Each thing you go through is a stepping stone for the next. Enjoy the journey. Seasons of life should be fluid.
Is there anything you would have done differently on your educational journey? If so, please share.
Sami - I don’t believe in having regrets. Everything is for a purpose. Seek out internships and job shadowing opportunities, even when afraid, do it anyway. You will always learn and grow from these experiences. You won’t know if you don’t try. I may have missed opportunities because I didn’t know about them or I was afraid.
Adrionna - I would have taken more time to breathe and enjoy the journey.
What was your biggest challenge in your educational journey and what did you do to overcome it?
Adrionna - I went back to school as an adult. I have two kids and had to work. I doubled up on classes and took summer classes. Remember, you have lives and commitments. I had to give myself little rewards. Many nights I had kids activities and then stayed up late studying. All of that work will pay off. Time management is challenging. Be sure to give yourself incentives/rewards along the way.
Sami - The way people manage their time is different for everyone. In my journey, it was important that the people around me supported me. Learn time management skills while in school. Prioritize yourself and your own health. People will gravitate to healthy people, then you can help them.
While you were a student, were there any internships, job shadowing, volunteering or work experience that helped you gain employment after graduation? If so, please share.
Sami - Any volunteering is looked at highly by employers. I highly recommend finding those opportunities. The worst someone can say is no. As a student, I volunteered through the Honors Program activities. I also was involved in leadership and diversity training at my church.
Adrionna - Get involved with professional organizations in the career path you are pursuing. I was one of the first Healthcare Technology graduates, so that path had not been laid out yet for internships. I asked everybody, “do you know of opportunities?” Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH) made the opportunity for me that gave me real-life experience. PCH was amazing, enlightening and pivotal in what would be my next step. It is not about what you know but who you know.
Questions from the audience:
What led you to pursue holistic medicine? Hospital politics can be frustrating.
Sami - I want to help people feel human and have those hard conversations when they are necessary. I want to equip patients to learn how to help themselves. The system for me felt broken. I can help and be a part of the change.
I’m interested in genetics and psychology. How do I choose between the two fields?
Sami - What feels most important to you? Genetics is amazing. Go wherever you feel your heart is being pulled. Reach out to subject matter experts and the community. Ask for 20-30 minutes of their time to ask questions such as, “What do you love? What do you hate? What is the future of this field?”
Danny - Your pathway will change. As you mature and go through things, you can go from one to the other.