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mrW/MTI 2014 Scholarship Recipient Spotlight: Courtney Dean

*UPDATE: Courtney’s Mom posted this news and thank you from Courtney on Mike’s Facebook page.

My daughter, Courtney Dean, won the Mike Rowe Works scholarship and I wanted you to see what she put on her wall. She is so appreciative for this opportunity! Thanks, Mike! ~ Terri Dean

“So for those of you who don’t know, I finish my extern hours tomorrow, take my certification test May 12th, graduate from MTI May 15th, and I start working in the lab at Cox Adult Medicine and Endocrinology Specialists May18th! I can’t thank everyone enough for helping and supporting me through the scholarship process and during the 9 crazy packed months of homework, tests, and studying. I thank God everyday for blessing me with this wonderful opportunity to go to school and come out completely debt-free.

And I can’t thank Mike Rowe enough for the mikeroweWORKS Scholarship, it really has changed my life. I’m going to be starting a career as a medical assistant without any debt and I don’t know anybody else who can say that. I’m just so grateful for everything.”

Courtney Dean - mrW-MTISpringfield, Mo. Medical Assisting Program student Courtney Dean had been homeschooled her entire life and found herself at a crossroads when it came time to figure out her post-high school plans: attend MTI or a different technical school she was also interested in.

But as you’ll see, it turns out the choice to attend MTI wasn’t much of a choice at all, given the school’s accelerated, hands-on training programs and the fact Courtney was awarded one of last year’s mikeroweWORKS Foundation Scholarships.

At the end of the day, MTI was the perfect fit for Courtney and the kind of post-secondary educational experience she so desired.

Recently, Courtney took a few moments out of her busy schedule to chat with us about her decision to attend MTI and how her workforce training is coming along after the first few months.

Midwest Technical Institute: How did you discover MTI and what made you decide to attend?

Courtney Dean: I was homeschooled, about to graduate from high school, and was looking around on the internet for scholarships that would work for me. We found the Mike Rowe Works Scholarship and really appreciated the message Mike was putting out there. After I had started the application process for the Mike’s scholarship, I applied for a scholarship with another technical school. They actually ended up offering me a scholarship right before I received confirmation that I had won the Mike Rowe Works Scholarship.

But when McCall Bradshaw called me and told me that I had won the scholarship at MTI, I had to make a choice. Honestly, I really liked what I had seen at MTI – I had toured both schools and had been praying over my decision through the whole process. The staff at MTI had been so wonderful and the medical assisting program at MTI sounded great – I like the idea of being able to be in the workforce so quickly! And I really like that the classes I take at MTI are directly connected to my degree – not a bunch of extra classes that don’t have anything to do with the medical field. I felt like I would receive a more personal and hands on experience at MTI, which is exactly what I am getting!

How long were you homeschooled? Do you think that gave you a unique perspective not only on the Mike Rowe scholarship program and MTI, but on life itself?

I have been homeschooled my entire life. I’m not sure if I can say my perspective is unique because I feel like I am just a normal teenager! But I will say that since I have been homeschooled, I have had the opportunity to really see how life works in a way that I don’t think I would have had if I was gone 8 hours a day in a public school. I have seen my parents deal with life, death, birth, kids, illnesses, aging, parents, jobs finances – you name it – on a day to day basis. I am grateful to have been a part of all this instead of just hearing what happened at the end of the day, and I think that has prepared me more for life than any class I could ever take.

When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do after high school, I knew that I wanted to be debt-free if possible, and I didn’t want to spend years on an education that wouldn’t provide a job once I earned a diploma. The Mike Rowe scholarship was a perfect fit. I was concerned when I first applied – I didn’t know if I could beat kids that were from a public school and had classmates and teachers who would vote for them. But with lots of hard work and reaching out to all of the great people in my life, I won! And I love the program at MTI! I will hopefully be working as a medical assistant by next summer! I am so excited to have that opportunity !

Not to belabor the point, but you can talk a little about your transition from a homeschool environment to MTI? Was it difficult? Exciting?

I was really nervous that first week of school. It definitely was different being in a “classroom” situation. My parents have always encouraged me to try new things and said they felt I could learn anything put in front of me. At MTI, there is a lot of hard work. I really wasn’t used to deadlines and taking so many tests, but I have been doing really great. MTI can be demanding and if you don’t keep up with the assignments, tests and projects, you will sink. But the teachers and staff are very helpful. It did take me that first week to get the hang of things, but the transition from homeschool to classroom was pretty easy. I mean, I love learning. Life is about learning, it happens every day no matter where we are – at home, at school, on the job, volunteering, with friends – there is always the opportunity to learn something and that’s exciting.

What has been your greatest challenge so far?

The first week of every mod is a challenge – especially for new students! You get so much paperwork and homework in the first couple of days that it’s overwhelming. But, if you hang on, work hard, and stay on top of all the assignments, projects, and tests, it eventually gets easier.

What has been your greatest achievement thus far at MTI?

Drawing blood from an actual person! I started at MTI in the third mod and that was when we learned how to draw blood. I felt pretty awesome when I drew blood from a real person rather than the fake arm that we had been practicing on!

Describe the process of applying for the scholarship. What did you choose to include in your essay and video?

The application process was simple, but it did take a lot of work! Since I could only include a limited amount of information in both things, it was important to make sure that when they were done reading my essay or watching my video, they knew exactly who I was, why I wanted to be a medical assistant, and a little about what I wanted to be in the future. In my essay, I wanted to make sure they knew I was a hard worker and that I was worth taking a chance on!

I also wanted to impress how important it was to me to not end up with a huge debt that would be haunting me for years when I graduated college. Making the video was harder for me. I don’t like to be the center of attention, and the video was all about me! I wanted to include the people who gave me references during the application process, because what they said about me told more about why I deserved the scholarship than I could say about myself. I also wanted to make it funny so people would actually want to watch my video and vote for me! It was fun, and I have a lot of people to thank for helping me with it.

What about the future? Have you thought about what you’d like to do after graduation?

After graduation, I would like to work in a clinic in Springfield, Missouri. I would really like to work with babies and children, so my perfect job would be in a pediatrician’s office. I might even consider furthering my education once I have worked in an office and get an idea of different areas in my career field.