Peggy Dovel: Former candy striper back in the health care setting ‣ Laurel Ridge Community College
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Peggy Dovel: Former candy striper back in the health care setting

Image of Dovel with certificates
Peggy Dovel with her recently-earned certifications in the health care field.

Fifty years after volunteering at a Maryland hospital – at that time, such helpers were referred to as candy stripers – Peggy Dovel has come full circle. In the past several months, she has earned both her Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CMA) and Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) certifications through Laurel Ridge Community College Workforce Solutions.

And, she credits Workforce Solutions’ Janet Mayes with helping her achieve her dream.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better instructor,” Dovel said. “I wanted something close to nursing in the medical field, so I chose the fast-track CMA program. After completing that in 2022, I decided to further my education with the phlebotomy course. Now, I’m ready to pursue my lifelong dream in the health field.”

She added that Mayes didn’t just help her with the academic side of the program, but also helped her navigate the necessary technology.

“She is one of those persons I will long remember and consider a role model,” said Dovel.

Topics covered in Workforce Solutions’ CMA program include clinical patient care, administrative assisting, anatomy, pharmacology, point-of-care testing, injections, medication administration and EKG placement. The Phlebotomy program trains students to collect patients’ blood, as well as other specimens, for lab tests.

A Luray High School graduate, Dovel grew up in Washington, D.C., before her family moved to Page County when she was 15. Twenty years ago, she relocated to Front Royal.

Dovel actually began studying nursing at Northern Virginia Community College – after first taking a chemistry class at Laurel Ridge – following her high school graduation, but couldn’t afford to complete the program. She then returned to Page County, got married and had her children.

Dovel has had many jobs over the years, including factory, timeshare sales and restaurant work. From 1983 to 1997, she sold Home Interiors. Her last five years with the company, she was the sales leader in the Shenandoah Valley. Dovel continues to work as a shift manager at Arby’s, but has reduced her schedule to part time because she wants to enjoy the summer.

“I was excited when I came back to school,” said Dovel. “I was like a kid because it was something that I always wanted to do.”

She laughed, “I was the oldest kid in the class.”

At 65, she estimates “I’ve got another 15-20 years’ work in me yet.”

Dovel would like to work with geriatric patients or those battling addiction.

“I’m a people person,” she explained. “I saw so many people not get the care they need because of the nursing shortage, so I decided to go back to school.”

FastForward grant funding covered two-thirds of the costs of the CMA and phlebotomy programs, while FANTIC (Financial Assistance for Noncredit Training) funds paid for the remainder.

Dovel is considering pursuing her medical training even further, possibly through the Practical Nursing program.

“There’s always something to learn every day,” she said. “I still have goals and aspirations for my education. I am passionate about the health field. I’m still studying the things I’ve learned.”

Learn more about the CMA program at, and the Phlebotomy program at

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.