Scholar Story

After more than 20 years in the restaurant industry, Rachael McLelland went back to school, switched careers, and is now employed as a Medical Assistant at VCU Health. Similar to many Virginia Ready Scholars, Rachael’s job was eliminated because of the pandemic. The outlook was particularly bad for the restaurant industry, so she took that as a sign to dive into a dream she had put on hold.

Rachael saw a flyer about Virginia Ready while riding the bus in Richmond. Soon after, she enrolled in a Certified Medical Assistant Course offered at Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA) and submitted her application to become a Virginia Ready Scholar. While taking her course, she had the opportunity to attend a Virginia Ready Career Readiness session where she learned about resume writing, interviewing skills, and made connections with community healthcare jobs.

She successfully passed her exam and received her credential in May of 2021. She then received her Virginia Ready Credential Achievement Award, which is one of the great advantages of being a Virginia Ready Scholar. “[The Award] was incredible and allowed me a little time to explore and settle on job opportunities”, said Rachael.

Now, with her job in VCU Health's Interventional Pain Management Clinic, Rachael has the opportunity to be hands-on in helping people. She said, “I come to work every day excited about what I'm going to learn today. I feel like I am at the beginning of endless learning opportunities, and I'm loving every minute of it!”

We’re excited every day to hear about the great opportunities our Scholars find as they enter or re-enter the workforce with their newly-earned credentials. Rachael is a perfect example of what can be achieved with commitment, curiosity, and a little help from Virginia Ready. She said, “Without [Virginia Ready], I doubt I would ever have taken the first steps, but today I am reaching higher than I ever expected to be able to. Next step: RN!”

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