Written By: Charmaine Rochester-Eyeguokan, PharmD, CDE, BCACP, Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Science and Associate Director of Clinical Services for the Center for Innovative Pharmacy Solutions
Wendy Lavonne McKenzie has been employed by the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) since 2008 as an environmental services custodian. She currently works in several buildings across campus, including the School of Pharmacy’s Pharmacy Learning Center, where the Center for Innovative Pharmacy Solution’s (CIPS) eHealth Center is located.
Wendy has long wanted to pursue a career in the field of information technology (IT). She recently took a big step that will put her on a path to success, completing her Information Technology Service Administration (ITSA) certification from My Computer Career, a live online program accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. My Computer Career educates students in a variety of technology platforms, including Microsoft, CompTIA, Linux, Cisco, and EC-Council, to increase their IT skills.
Late Nights, Long Hours
Wendy faced several challenges in her pursuit of this certification, but the most difficult one for her to overcome was the late-night classes. Wendy took live classes online two nights per week to help her gain the skills that she will need as an IT specialist. She studied about 30 hours every week to keep up with the class work, often with no sleep before reporting for her full-time UMB job.
But, she never missed a class.
Other challenges that Wendy encountered included keeping up with unfamiliar course material, as some students in her class had previous IT experience and asked questions about topics that were difficult for her to understand. To keep pace with the class, she studied more. Although she only needed a little more than 500 hours to graduate, she clocked more than 1,000 hours of study time by the end of her course. The extra time helped her better understand the material, allowing her to better keep up with her classmates.
When Failure Isn’t an Option
Although there were many times when Wendy felt like quitting, her mentors encouraged her to persevere. She also received support and words of encouragement from her family, friends, and coworkers, including the IT staff at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, who helped explained the course material to her and demonstrated the systems to help her. They even allowed her to practice some of her skills using their computers.
Wendy completed the course in December 2019, attending her graduation ceremony on Feb. 8, 2020 with the more than 100 other students in her class. She now hopes to gain employment as an IT specialist, while continuing to pursue additional certifications to advance her IT knowledge.
At CIPS, we are very proud of Wendy’s achievements, as she has demonstrated perseverance, diligence, and focus despite many challenges and obstacles. Our CIPS team has been rooting for her, and we are overjoyed to celebrate her achievements with her. We hope this accomplishment will help her achieve her future career goals and inspires others to not give up regardless of the odds once their minds are set to achieve their goals.