Medical Laboratory Technologist
Carter Blood Care
Medical City of Dallas
“Growing up in rural Kenya was tough. I walked to my elementary school three miles each way without shoes, and on the weekends we would work on my mom’s farm. Then I went to a boarding high school in a small town about 50 miles away from home, and I was there for four years.
“After high school, I moved to Nairobi, the capital, and worked as a property agent for several years. I always wanted to go to college, but it wasn’t easy because it’s very expensive — and by that time, my sister was in high school, and I had to work and help pay for her school. There was no way to do that and pay for college for myself.
“I read a book by Ben Carson (“Gifted Hands,” published in 1990), an African-American man who grew up in inner-city Detroit and became the chief of pediatrics at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. It was a big inspiration to me — if he could grow up in poverty and go to Yale University, maybe I would be able to go to college too. By that time, I had an aunt who had moved to the U.S. and was living in Dallas, and I asked her if she thought there was even a 1% chance I could come here to go to college.
“I arrived in the U.S. on a Saturday afternoon and started classes at Richland that Monday. I was going to do accounting. But in the first two weeks, I was looking through the catalog, and I wanted something that would give me a background for what I wanted to do later. El Centro had all of the allied health programs, so I transferred there.
“I really liked the Medical Laboratory Technology program and personally think it was good for me. It was the basis of everything in my career, but the most important thing I learned was to gain confidence in myself to know I can do much better things in my life.
“There were times when the learning was really rough, but Lisa Lock always encouraged us and told us about students who had succeeded. I owe much of my success to Lisa and her encouragement, and I use my knowledge from the program every single day in my job. There are things I didn’t understand 100% when I was in school, but now I do.
“My long-term goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree in medical technology in the next few years, and school will be a priority again. I want to eventually go to pharmacy school, and I’ll need to make very good grades since pharmacy school is so competitive.
“My advice to other international students is: When you come to the U.S., don’t wait to start college. Yes, you may have to work — but make school your main priority so that it will set your future. Do what you can do and let God do the rest.
“I would recommend this program to all students looking to make a difference in our society. College gave me a treasured opportunity to define my destiny.”
Jonathan Mwathi earned an associate degree in Medical Laboratory Technology from El Centro and was named the program’s Outstanding Student of the Year in 2007. As an MLT for Carter Blood Care at Medical City of Dallas, he works in the blood bank cross-matching and identifying antibodies, preparing and relabeling frozen plasma and making blood ready for transfusion.