Life often presents us with opportunities to change, grow and evolve into the people we are meant to be. Sometimes it’s a shift in location or where we make our homes; sometimes we move into new jobs within our careers; and sometimes, it’s an internal calling that motivates us to take professional risks. A talented local artist, Agatha Luz has great passion for her art and creates beautiful, hand-drawn portraits and sketches, but recognizes it’s not as financially lucrative as she wants it to be.
Living in historic Salem, Massachusetts with her husband, Agatha realized she needed to explore new career opportunities to better make ends meet. One day, she happened across an enrollment flyer for Wellspring’s HealthCare Office Support Training (HOST) job-training program in one of the Salem-based social media groups she followed. After inquiring and learning more about the program, Agatha enrolled in the Spring 2023 HOST session as a full-time student.
The HOST program is a 450-hour comprehensive job-training program that prepares students for entry-level, non-clinical roles in healthcare. Program graduates receive specialized training in administrative and medically related coursework that prepares them for a variety of patient-focused careers in physicians’ offices and other medical settings. Offered in both full and part-time sessions to accommodate a variety of student schedules, Agatha graduated from the HOST program in June 2023.
I will never be able to repay the gift of the quality education and support I received at HOST. Prior to enrolling, I had very low confidence in my ability to work, to find a placement that I loved, and even to complete the program. But I gained so much confidence in my own abilities and what I was learning, and I get to keep this education for life.
Like many HOST graduates, Agatha found employment almost immediately and now works as a Unit Secretary for the Epstein Center for Behavioral Health at Salem Hospital. In her new role, Agatha provides support to nursing and clinical staff, and is responsible for greeting new patients, scheduling appointments, and organizing patient records while maintaining patient confidentiality. While Agatha is grateful for the skills she learned while enrolled in HOST, she is most proud of the level of confidence she has because of the HOST program.
“I will never be able to repay the gift of the quality education and support I received at HOST. Prior to enrolling, I had very low confidence in my ability to work, to find a placement that I loved, and even to complete the program. But I gained so much confidence in my own abilities and what I was learning, and I get to keep this education for life,” she said.
While much of the HOST coursework focuses learners on future position responsibilities, Wellspring understands student success is contingent on skills-building in areas beyond education. To help students have the best chance at securing top administrative roles, the HOST curriculum includes a Business Communications course that helps with resume-building. This course helped Agatha to better recognize her existing skills sets and develop new educational goals.
Agatha also said the strong relationships she formed with her peers, instructors and alumna coupled with the on-demand, responsive support she received from all sources allowed her to explore more of herself, acknowledge her potential and realize professional success was within her grasp.
Mary Beth Tobin (Wellspring’s Interim Director of Job Training Initiatives) and the entire HOST staff check-in with students and alumni regularly. At many places, after you’re done with a program, you never hear from them again. Wellspring’s HOST staff are brilliant at building up every one of us (students) and helping us reveal our own true selves. And some things—like college—feel more possible now.
Because of the high-quality education Agatha received at Wellspring’s HOST program, she is now eligible to take advantage of all of Wellspring’s supportive programs, including small monetary stipends—which students used to buy food for their babies, pay for transportation, or buy new work attire—and free career advising and education planning services.
After meeting with Wellspring’s Career Advising Team, Agatha realized she wants to better support her Epstein colleagues and earn her associate degree. Thanks to Wellspring’s longstanding partnership with North Shore Community College, Agatha can transfer 19 credits of completed HOST coursework to NSCC as course credit, which equates to almost one-third of an associate degree. Agatha is thrilled to continue along her chosen education path to long-term financial security, saying: