Everything is aligning at the perfect time for Medical Assisting student Desiree Morris.

When the pandemic hit, Desiree was enrolled at another school, where she was taking mostly virtual classes. It wasn’t a good fit. She stopped attending classes there and began researching alternatives. She knew she wanted to study healthcare at a school close to home in her Austin community.

“That’s when I stumbled across Malcolm X,” Desiree said. “I wanted to go into healthcare from the jump. Malcolm X has a good medical school. They have a good medical program.”

Desiree attends the West Side Learning Center (WSLC), Malcolm X College’s satellite campus. It’s convenient, and Desiree feels like she’s not missing out on knowledge or opportunities that students at the main campus get. Her professor, Christine Dzoga, makes sure of that by constantly advocating for WSLC students.

By Spring 2023, Desiree expects to complete her Medical Assisting courses and start her clinical practice, working with actual patients in a healthcare facility. Her dream is to complete her clinicals at Rush University Medical Center and, eventually, to work there. She feels ready for her future thanks to all of the WSLC professors who have experience in the field.

“They give us real-world scenarios of what happens and what not to do—things that we won’t learn from the book,” Desiree said.

And Desiree is grateful for support from City Colleges of Chicago to afford those books. The money she’s received from Project MPACT, a program at Malcolm X that provides tuition money, stipends, and job training, and Future Ready, a program that offers a no-cost education to City Colleges students in certain programs, have paid for her tuition and reimbursed her for books.

“I still would’ve gone to school, but they helped me book-wise because that would’ve put a hole in my pocket,” she said.

Although Desiree just began courses at WSLC this year, she can already tell it’s a special place. She feels everyone, from the instructors to the staff who greet her at the front door daily, are friendly and care about her well-being and success. With their support, Desiree feels ready to tackle her courses, her clinicals, and her future career in Medical Assisting.

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