For Tiana Lee, completing WMCAT’s Adult Career Training Program required getting out of her comfort zone and overcoming significant challenges in order to invest in her future. Tiana, a 2018 graduate of our medical billing program who is now employed at Spectrum Health, shared her story at Adult Program’s June graduation ceremony.

“I once heard the saying, ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.’ I am living proof of this statement. As we all know, life outside of a comfort zone can be intense, trying, exhausting and scary. But life at the end of a comfort zone, after you’ve faced the challenges, can be freeing, new, purposeful, real and inspiring.

Fellow WMCAT graduates, we felt this process – life outside of our comfort zone over the last year. First, we showed up at WMCAT for an information session without knowing what to expect. Then we took a pre-program assessment and interviewed with program leaders, and were vulnerable in ways we’d demonstrated only with trusted loved ones. This was just to be accepted into the program! We persisted and ran the course of the program for the last 6-9 months, four days a week, and 6 hours a day – not including the homework we did at night and many of us working full and part-time jobs

That was only part of what pushed us out of our comfort zones. Personally, we faced car troubles, financial troubles, new work schedules at our jobs, new childcare arrangements, relationship troubles, housing troubles, and reworked schedules for everyone in our families – so we could make room for the program, and more importantly our future.

We were all challenged on many levels during our time at WMCAT – no doubt! I know I faced many times where I didn’t know if I should keep going. Others in my life even questioned if I should keep going, making me feel selfish for wanting to continue. I was by no means ‘comfortable’ at this point.

But guess what – I am here tonight because I want stability and economic security for my family, not comfort. I want my children to have the life that I wanted for myself. Life is beginning for us today, graduates!

For me, I will always remember my time at WMCAT as my season. My chance to find life at the end of my comfort zone. I felt stuck in my life prior to coming to WMCAT. I didn’t want to turn 30 and realize that my life hadn’t gone anywhere. The cards were already stacked against me at a young age when I became a teen mom. I didn’t want to be another statistic. After high school, I worked hard to attend a trade school but unfortunately, I had to drop out within the first three months of the program. At that time, I felt the lowest of the low. Since then, I had always told myself that if I had the opportunity to work towards my future and career again, I CAN and WOULD do it! There wouldn’t be anything that could stop me from succeeding.

When WMCAT came into the picture last year, I knew this was my chance. It was my time to turn my future around for me and my family.

One major lesson our class learned during the program, which was part of the key to our success – never face life’s challenges alone. We had the whole team at WMCAT supporting us 100% of the time; we walked alongside each other as classmates, fighting against the social isolation many of us had experienced; and many of us had someone at home or in our community rooting for our success. For some, it was our kids. For others, WMCAT was our only community of support. We were encouraged and supported in a genuine way when we walked into the building. Everyone there – every single person, wanted us to succeed. We also learned how important it is to establish networks with professionals in our fields, building the social capital and influence needed for the next steps in our respective journeys. We met employers, shared our stories, and established relationships with professionals we otherwise would not have met. Being part of a community that wants success with you — that is the most empowering feeling ever.

Graduates, we now have a life waiting for us – a life ready for us to jump in to. Today is a new beginning to seek our dreams and goals that we have worked so hard for. Though we all have unique dreams and goals for our families and for ourselves, we each add to a collective dream that led us and has led others to WMCAT – a chance at a real, new, purposeful and inspiring life.

Fellow classmates, I hope you leave tonight feeling full of purpose. I hope you have either found that purpose already or are working towards finding it. I hope you feel appreciated as a professional in your field and career. I hope you feel that your work and everything you do makes a difference. I have felt these same hopes for myself. I am now proud to say that I have found my purpose as a medical biller with an employer who values me, and appreciates what I offer as a professional and as a person.

I have become the person I could have only dreamed of. I have confidence, I’m optimistic, and I value life differently. I have a new found faith in myself, I know that I am able to conquer the world! I am humble, and I’ve learned my self-worth and acceptance. I am finally able to put myself first.

Finally, my hope and dream is that WE, as a class, find life at the end of our comfort zones. Life that inspires others, life that is full of dreams and goals, and life that leads our children, family and friends to do the same. We stand here today with an open path before us because we sought life over comfort. We did it!”

Congratulations to Tiana and the WMCAT Class of 2018! Learn more about the Adult Career Training Program here.

You can provide a culture of opportunity for students like Tiana by making a gift to WMCAT.