Coming back to college at my age – it’s not an easy thing to do, you know. Fighting cancer was one thing – it’s terrifying to come back to college at almost forty. I’m Alissa Turner and I’m a graduate of Santa Barbara Business College. I got my associate of science degree and I went for the medical assisting program. I stopped working retail because I was diagnosed with cancer and while I was working I was doing treatments where I missed some work, had several surgeries and at that time, I was let go because I didn’t have any more time off. And at that time when I was off, somebody at the cancer center had told me about coming and getting my medical degree so I could start medical assisting. They told me they had gone to Santa Barbara Business College. At that time I thought I would give it a chance and come in and talk to somebody and before I knew it I was signing papers and starting to get my degree.
When I first came to Santa Barbara Business College I was scared to death. I was almost forty but everybody was so nice, so understanding. They didn’t treat me like I was any different than anybody else walking in through the doors. I was really comfortable. I don’t think I met one staff member that I didn’t get along with or didn’t help me make it through. Every class, I have an amazing feeling towards all those staff members that help students. I’ve seen it time and time again where some people feel lost. They feel like they’re not a part of something and especially in a bigger college, that I tried going to, you almost seem like you’re a number. Here everybody knew your name. Everybody knew who you were. They made sure that you were on the right track, that whatever help that you needed, they were going to get it for you and talk to the right person. That is the difference that they make and the impact that they make on every student that comes through these doors.
I work for a doctor who has a comprehensive blood and cancer center and I basically get a chance to meet all the patients that come through. I get to see them step by step through the time that they spend trying to get better and kick cancer, so it’s very emotional but it’s also very enlightening. It never lets me forget where I came from and how I started my journey. I’m a survivor – I’m a five year survivor. I want to thank the college. I want to thank the staff. I want to thank everybody that has made the opportunity for me to be able to go on and helped me realize dreams can come true and life can start over for anybody going through anything. It’s never too late. You’re never too old and there’s never an opportunity that you can’t take by just stepping through the doors somewhere and talking to somebody.