While still in high school, Peoria resident Angel Montejano knew she wanted to go into healthcare. Her grandmother has diabetes, and Angel became intrigued with the doctors and nurses as she accompanied her to medical appointments.
Her path to a career in healthcare opened up when she learned about an apprenticeship program at Methodist College where she could study to be a nursing assistant, and then go into the medical assistant program.
“One of my counselors at Peoria High School told me about Methodist,” said Angel. “I always wanted to go into healthcare, so I knew about OSF and Methodist. Those were like my two main colleges that I wanted to go to after high school.”
Methodist College offered the opportunity for Angel to start her education in healthcare as a nursing assistant. In 2017, the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity awarded a $250,000 Apprenticeship PLUS grant to Methodist College, UnityPoint Health, and CareerLink to provide education and training in healthcare to youth while also providing them employment opportunities. Students selected for the program were provided scholarships which covered tuition, fees and expenses, and if successful in the program could earn nursing assistant and medical assistant certificates.
Angel successfully earned her nursing assistant certificate and became certified through the state of Illinois. She currently works as a Certified Nurse Assistant at UnityPoint Health Methodist Hospital.
“The (nursing assistant program) was pretty fast,” she said. “After that I was able to get a CNA job. It was really cool, because I was able to be in school and getting the real experience, so that helped me along with the program.”
Angel continued in the Medical Assistant program at Methodist College and graduated earlier this year. She then went on to pass a national medical assistant certification exam. While she credits Methodist College Medical Assistant Program Director Courtney Gehrig and Dean of Arts and Sciences Dr. Eileen Setti for encouraging her throughout the apprenticeship program, she credits her mother for motivating her to finish.
“My mom has always motivated, kind of pushed me even when I wasn’t feeling inspired or really wanting to continue,” said Angel. “There were times when it was really hard, but my mom really inspired and motivated me."
Now, Angel hopes she can serve as an inspiration to others.
“I am a first generation (college) student, I kind of am the example for my siblings,” she adds. “I’ve always wanted to make my family proud, make myself proud – this really has been a journey. I really did not think I was going to be able to finish, but I did. I made it, so it’s something that I am proud of.”
Angel hopes to pursue a career in herbal and alternative medicine. She believes that both can work alongside western medicine to help in the recovery of a patients.