The 2007-8 recession hit Darena Pack and her family hard. She lost her bookkeeping job, her husband lost his truck driving job, and they eventually had to move out of their house and into an apartment. “We were really struggling,” she says. She got a job in a veterinarian’s office that she enjoyed, but then a medical issue forced her to leave that position. A part-time job at a hotel followed, but with no benefits and no real future. Nearing 50, she realized she needed something more stable and better paying.
Darena has a BA in Economics, but her education was, she says, “outdated.” Her mother, a nurse, encouraged her to check out Forsyth Tech’s Economic and Workforce Development health care classes, and Darena went all in. Over the course of two years, “every single medical class they had, I took.” At various times, she took classes on Main Campus, at our Goodwill location, at our Kernersville location, and online through Ed2Go.
Only working part time, Darena had limited funds, but she got help paying for her classes from Experiment in Self-Reliance, a local nonprofit that provides people with funds to pursue education through a Self-Sufficiency program. “Tonia Long from Forsyth Tech sent me to ESR, and I met with Ola Ashford there,” Darena says. “Without their help, none of this would have been possible.”
Darena took a wide variety of classes, all healthcare related. One she did especially well in was Medical Unit Secretary. It was tough, she recalls, having had no previous experience or exposure to that line of study, but when she got the second highest grade, in a class with students who had previous medical backgrounds, her apprehension of taking the class was replaced with a sense of confidence to continue on her journey.
As Darena was searching for work in the medical field, she attended Forsyth Tech’s EWD Open House & Career Expo. While visiting Wake Forest Medical Center’s table, she spoke with a representative about the application she had recently submitted. She was encouraged to add the word “Certificate” to the training on her resume and reapply. Within two weeks, she had two interviews and was offered a position in their Acquired Brain Injury Program, which she gladly accepted! “I love my job and I’m thrilled to death to be here,” she says.
Darena’s success has made her an advocate for the college, encouraging others to follow in her footsteps by coming here. “I wouldn’t be where I am without Forsyth Tech,” she says. “It was a huge goal to reach and I reached it, and I’m very proud of that.”