August 25, 2022

Smith sees the Medical Assistant program at Great Bay as a “steppingstone” to her long-held hope of becoming a nurse.

Lauri Smith’s dream is coming true, thanks to Great Bay Community College.

The York, Maine, resident is taking classes in the Medical Assistant Training Program at Great Bay’s Portsmouth campus and has a job waiting for her when she graduates with a certificate in September. Through apprentice partnerships with Great Bay, Smith’s employer pays her tuition and gives her a stipend during the 12-week intensive training period in exchange for her pledge to work for up to two years.

“I am starting a new chapter in my life, and Great Bay has given that to me,” said Smith, 58, who moved to Maine from Illinois to care for her aging parents. “I have a whole other lifetime left. It’s a win-win, and so much more than I expected.”

After being away from school for more than 20 years, she has found Great Bay to be accommodating and supportive. “I can’t say enough about Great Bay. The instructors, the staff, they have all been great. If you have a question, they answer it. If you have confusion, they clear it up,” Smith said. “Everyone is positive and welcoming, and I feel blessed to be here – and I want to do better because of that.”

In Illinois, Smith worked for a surgeon’s office and had planned to finish her schooling to get a nursing a degree. With her kids grown, Smith has the time and space in her life to focus on things she has always wanted to do and sees the Medical Assistant program at Great Bay “as a steppingstone” to her long-held hope of becoming a nurse.

“This allows me to refine my tools and skills and be placed in a guaranteed job doing what I want to do,” she said. “I will work as a medical assistant, and next spring I plan to take a human anatomy class and then the nursing pre-exam. If it works out, it was meant to be. I am in the right place at the right time for getting the tools I need, so there is nothing stopping me now. Everyone has been so encouraging.”

The 12-week Medical Assistant Training Program prepares student to assist physicians by performing functions related to the administrative and clinical responsibilities of a medical offices. The next session begins Sept. 26.