2011 Rappahannock County High School graduate Morgan Palme’s grandmother pushed her to pursue her dream of a career in the healthcare industry.
Luckily for Palme, her dreams came cheap – thanks to two state funding programs, she “didn’t have to pay a single penny” while earning her credentials in certified clinical medical assistant (CMA) and phlebotomy technician through Laurel Ridge Community College Workforce Solutions in late 2022.
FastForward funding – which covers a minimum of two-thirds of the tuition costs for Virginia residents undergoing short-term career training – and G3 funding – which pays any remaining tuition money after all financial assistance has been applied for qualified students enrolled in high-demand career programs – picked up the tab for Palme. Additionally, thanks to the generosity of donors to the Laurel Ridge Foundation, Palme received a grant from the Rappahannock County Student Success Grant and a scholarship from the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.
“That made me even more excited because I had been so worried about the financial part,” said Palme, who had left her full-time job as a daycare teacher in order to concentrate on her own education. “I just kept on pushing myself. My grandmother was pushing me to fight for my dreams and do what I wanted to do and be happy and find a career that is fulfilling and fun.”
She had spent some time living with her grandparents and taking care of her grandfather, who had dementia. Sadly, he died this past fall, shortly before his granddaughter completed her education.
Palme’s courses had some overlap, with her CMA program running from July to November, and her phlebotomy program from September to December.
Palme, who lives in Chester Gap, found her Workforce Solution classes to be “absolutely awesome.”
“If I can get back and do more, I would love to,” she said, saying she would love to become a nurse. “Instructor Janet Mayes was great.”
In January, Palme started working at a family practice in Marshall. Her job duties include patient intake, accompanying patients to the exam rooms and getting their vitals, doing EKGs, conducting urinalysis and administering vaccines and other injections.
“This career field is a big change for me,” said Palme. “But, I’ve always had a passion for caring for people and wanting them to feel better. I’ve had a lot of patients here say that I really care for them as a patient. I love it.”
Beginning CMAs can expect to earn about $35,000-$37,000 a year.
Learn more about how to support deserving students like Palme with a donation to the foundation at www.laurelridge.edu/donate.
Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.