Two years ago, South Piedmont Community College student Laura Posso had stopped attending classes, was facing homelessness, and was quickly losing hope for her future.
Today, she holds a certificate in phlebotomy, just landed a job in the field, is well on her way to a Medical Assisting diploma, and has plans to become a pediatric nurse.
The difference between now and then: persistence, hard work, and the support of her SPCC instructors.
“My instructors were always telling me, ‘You can do it. I know you can do it.’ They believed in me when I didn’t always believe in myself,” said Posso, who grew up in Union County and graduated from Porter Ridge High School.
“I hope someone reads this and says to themselves, ‘If she can do it, I can do it too.’”
Posso was originally accepted to SPCC’s Medical Assisting program in spring 2020, just as the COVID pandemic was setting in, and just as her parents decided to retire to Colorado.
Worried the pandemic, combined with the complications of a cross-country move, would delay her ability to enroll in college, Posso decided to stay in North Carolina. Sooner than she’d expected, she was responsible for supporting herself, while also adjusting to the demands of college.
Posso lived with a friend for a while, but when that ended, she struggled to find housing she could afford on wages she earned working in a restaurant. She slept on another friend’s couch for a time, but the situation was short-lived.
“I had a couch to sleep on, but I didn’t have a home. My next option was to sleep in my car,” Posso said. “I didn’t want to ask my parents for money. I wanted to do it on my own.”
As she struggled to pay her bills, her grades at SPCC slipped. By fall 2020, she had no choice but to stop attending.
“I felt really down,” she said. “I was working in a restaurant, and I just kept saying to myself, ‘Am I going to do this forever?’”
Posso decided the answer was no; she would not give up on her dream of working in the medical field, no matter the challenges she faced.
“When I was younger, I liked taking care of my sister, making sure she took her medicine when she was sick. I remember my parents telling me I was really good at taking care of people. Ever since then, that’s what I’ve wanted to do with my life — take care of people,” she said.
Posso spent several months getting her finances, living situation, and schedule in order, creating the security and space she needed to return to SPCC, which she did this spring.
With encouragement from her SPCC instructors, Posso earned her phlebotomy certificate while resuming her Medical Assistant diploma program. She completed the certificate earlier this semester and has been hired as a phlebotomist at a local nonprofit clinic. She will work as a phlebotomist, gaining valuable real-world experience, while continuing her education. Her long-term plan is to earn a degree in nursing.
“It feels great. To go from having no money, no education, no way of supporting myself to a career path, it’s totally different from where I was,” she said.
Posso is bilingual and is excited to speak with her future patients in Spanish, helping them to feel more at ease.
“It’s very rewarding to know I’m going to have the chance to do what I’ve always dreamed of doing – help people,” Posso said.
“My story is a reminder that you can always try again. Just because you failed once doesn’t mean you’re going to fail again. Keep trying.”
SPCC’s phlebotomy certificate is affiliated with and recognized by American Medical Technologists. SPCC’s Medical Assisting program is designed to equip graduates with skills, knowledge, and competencies defined by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Program Standards and Guidelines for Medical Assisting Education Programs.