You’ll rarely find senior Trista Ison in the stands cheering for her Show Low High School Cougars, a complete reversal from her sophomore-year cheerleading days. She’s more likely doing homework for her Northland Pioneer College Medical Assistant degree and high school classes, or completing online high school history or college biology courses.
It was during her freshman year that Ison set her sights on “getting out of high school as soon as I could” and obtaining her associate degree at the same time. Now, just weeks away from her high school graduation, Ison is also on track to complete her Associate of Applied Science Medical Assistant (MDA) degree this summer after completing a 160-hour externship at a local medical facility and the phlebotomy course.
“I’d really like to do my externship at Summit (Regional Medical Center), where I am already serving as a volunteer, to get as broad a Medical Assistant experience as possible,” said Ison.
To achieve her goal, during her junior and senior years Ison used NPC’s dual enrollment program in mathematics and business, where both high school and college credits are awarded for completion, and the Medical Assistant courses offered through the Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology (NAVIT). For the additional college courses required for her degree, Ison used NPC’s College Bound Scholarship program, which waives tuition for up to 28 credits of general education courses. Online learn-ing opportunities are filling the gaps in required high school and college courses that scheduling conflicts make unavailable.
“Enrolling in NAVIT’s Medical Assistant program was a wake-up call for me. I thought it wouldn’t be that hard. But the instructors didn’t give me any breaks because I was a high school student. It has been a lot of hard work. One thing it has taught me is better time management. I used to be a procrastinator, but no more,” she adds with a chuckle. Her required business courses have helped her learn about personal finances and budgeting.
Her academic achievements placed her on NPC’s President’s List (4.0 GPA) for the Spring ’15 semester and the Dean’s List (3.5 or higher GPA) for Fall ’14 and ’15. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of students at two-year colleges. She was also selected as one of NPC’s 15 nominees for the 2016 All-Arizona Academic Team, earning her a tuition waiver (that’s free tuition) for up to 60 credits to complete her bachelor’s degree!
Already accepted as a junior at the University of Arizona to major in biology, Ison plans to use her MDA degree and experience to supplement the tuition waiver and a $8,500-per-year award from the university to prepare for medical school. “My career goal is to become a surgeon,” said Ison.
Being in NPC classes with older students has resulted in several friendships. “I’ve met a lot of nice people, and their life experiences have rubbed off a little on me.” Everyone is cheering on Ison’s next steps in her college career and her future success.
– Everett Robinson