Claudia Pariso: Textbook Support

Difficult childhood to medical assistant goals

Claudia Pariso was born and raised in Oildale, Calif., a town of about 32,000 just north of Bakersfield. Her childhood was difficult: one of constant fear due to various types of abuse, accompanied by a constant struggle with grades.

During her sophomore year of high school, her parents and counselor agreed that she should drop the college preparatory courses in favor of a more basic education.

“My father said some people just aren’t college material,” Claudia recalls.

Claudia became a switchboard operator for an answering service, married, had a son, and later divorced. At 28, she was a single mother of a toddler with a menial job.

The years slipped past. In 2013, Adventist Hospitals began building a new facility in Tehachapi. She saw that as an opportunity to live and work near her son and grandchildren, who had moved to Tehachapi many years earlier.

Claudia Pariso

“I have always had a gift to comfort and soothe people with struggles,” she says. “I talked to a few nurses I knew who suggested I become a Medical Assistant. I did some research and found Ventura College offered one of the best programs in the area.”

That’s when she made a decision that would change her life.

While many of her friends were planning their retirement, at 59 years old she quit her job to go back to school, but without any idea of how she would pay for it. Enter the Ventura College Foundation, which gave her some much-needed budgetary relief.

“Not a semester has gone by where I haven’t been able to pick up at least half of my required books at the Foundation’s Lending Library,” she says. “The Medical Assistant (M.A.) program alone would have cost me at least a thousand dollars if I had to buy each book needed.”

She has completed her initial goal of becoming a medical assistant, meeting the requirements for and receiving an A.S. degree in Multi-Skilled Medical Assisting. By then, though, the opening of the hospital had been delayed-beyond 2017.

“Fortunately, I have wonderful advisors and I made the decision to continue on with my education,” she says. She was firmly committed to working in a hospital setting, but decided a position as a Patient Advocate would be more in line with her strengths and her passions, which were born of personal experience.

“My grandson was born with Down Syndrome,” Claudia says. “His father and I have spent countless hours finding our way through the maze of paperwork and websites in an attempt to locate programs available to him. Had it not been for my background in Medical Assisting and tenacious spirit, he might never have received the care he is receiving today.”

Patient Advocates help those in need find the care they need. Claudia is determined to obtain such a position, and gives much of the credit to the Ventura College Foundation.

“The financial cost of continuing my education seemed overwhelming,” Claudia says. “The scholarships I received will allow me to complete my studies without taking out a student loan.”

“I am truly grateful for the opportunities that have been set in front of me,” she continues. “And with the resources I have been given, I can reach up and grab them.”