This quarter's True Blue Alum has wanted to be in the healthcare industry since she was a young girl. Like many of our UMA students, she pursued that goal despite all the obstacles in her path.
Growing up with a mom who worked as a Front Desk Receptionist at a doctor's office, Michele Hendricks, Class of 2016, fell in love with the healthcare field. Her passion for the industry only strengthened when she and her family endured health issues.
When Michele was 17 years old, her dad was diagnosed with stage IV prostate cancer and passed away the day after Michele’s 19th birthday. At the time of his passing, Michele was six months pregnant with her daughter. After she gave birth, her life unfortunately slipped into more hardship. While still mourning her father, Michele battled an addiction to narcotics and also suffered from diabetes and scoliosis. As she went through treatment for her addiction, Michele’s heart stopped from her combined health troubles.
Michele chose to push past her obstacles and take her life back into her own hands, changing for the better. She moved to Noblesville, Indiana, where she finally felt able to focus on her family's future. Michele enrolled in Ultimate Medical Academy's Medical Administrative Assistant diploma program—and kept going until she earned her associate degree in the same subject. It’s this kind of grit and determination that defines exceptional UMA students like Michele.
As Michele prepared to graduate with her associate degree, she began to work with UMA’s Career Services department—and a month before graduation, she secured a job at Midwest Eye Consultants as a Patient Support Specialist.
Her dedication and willingness to put herself out there quickly found her a niche in the eye care profession. In May, Michele was promoted to Optical Manager. She now manages a team of opticians, maintains positive patient relationships, mediates issues with orders and concerns, and files insurance. Michele's dedication to the eye care profession doesn’t stop at her job responsibilities. She is always looking for ways to improve her workplace—which is how she realized that the clinic was throwing away large quantities of expired contact lenses.
"We had boxes and boxes, and bags and bags full of contact lens trash," she said. To solve the waste problem, Michele put her critical thinking skills to use and researched a recycling program, TerraCycle Bausch + Lomb. Michele signed her office up for the program, and recycling programs have since been implemented in many of the 32 Midwest Eye Consultant offices throughout Indiana and Ohio.
Like many of our dedicated and community-focused students, Michele’s day doesn’t end when she leaves work. As a recovering opioid addict of eight years, she believes it's important to advocate for people suffering from addiction in her community. She attends a local addiction treatment center monthly to support, guide, and sponsor those who need help. She embodies UMA’s belief in giving back to the community through service.
Michele thanks UMA for giving her the tools and preparing her to meet many of her life goals. She recently bought her first car and house, and says she no longer struggles day-to-day.
"My experience at UMA was exactly what I needed to prepare me to be at the point I'm at today, and be successful and at the top of my department. They gave me all of the tools I needed, and the foundation to come into a place like Midwest and thrive.”
One of her new goals is to become a Certified Paraoptometric, or CPO, by the end of summer. That means she’s demonstrated her knowledge of concepts and tasks associated with optometric care, which will help her continue her career within the eye-care field. She wants everyone to know that they can find success, too.
"Don't ever let your current situation define who you'll be for the rest of your life. If you put in a little effort, someone will notice, and keep pushing until the right person notices.”
We're so excited to see Michele continue to be successful in her life and her career, and we couldn't be prouder of the positive impact she is making within her community. She exemplifies the drive and dedication we find in UMA students.