Paulina Gjergji is grateful for all the inspiring mentors she has had in her life, beginning with a much-loved health care worker in Albania.
On visits with her parents to their Albanian homeland, Gjergji has always been struck by the compassion, confidence and skill with which her aunt, a doctor, cares for her patients. When the time came to choose her own career, Gjergji knew that she wanted it to emulate that sense of purpose.
“My older sister had a great experience in the Medical Assistant program at Macomb. I would attend the (Student Organization of Medical Assistants) fundraisers with her, which also gave me more insight into the program,” says Gjergji. “I decided to follow her footsteps into the program after graduating from Chippewa Valley High School in 2018.”
Gjergji passed the national Certified Medical Assistant exam after completing her first year in the program. She is now working for a team of surgeons at their office in Rochester Hills as she continues her studies.
“I very much enjoy working for the five doctors and with the other medical assistants in this practice,” she says. “I am overjoyed in my career choice because I have always loved helping people.”
Gjergji is the first generation of her family to be born in the United States. Her parents received their Green Card in a lottery and emigrated from Albania in 1998 on the heels of a violent civil war. Bordered by Greece and Kosovo and across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, Albania is only now recovering from more than 50 years of isolation under communist rule. But, notes Gjergji, it will always be her parents’ home.
“It was hard for them to leave everything behind and come to a different country without knowing the language,” offers Gjergji. “They sacrificed a great amount for my sisters and I to have a better life.”
Now close to finishing her associate degree at Macomb, Gjergji has been attending her last few classes in a virtual environment.
“I actually like my classes being online,” says Gjergji. “It has given me the ability to do my assignments on my own time after spending time with my family and after work.”
“Family,” is very important to Gjergji, with most of her relatives still living in Europe. At home in Macomb County, Gjergji winds down from work and studies by “researching and fixing cars with my dad.”
Similarly, her learning experience at Macomb has had a family-like quality to it as well. “I have had such amazing professors who were very knowledgeable, understanding and helpful,” says Gjergji. “Professor Domanke-Nuytten pushes all of her students to be great and makes sure to make them comfortable talking with her about anything and everything. She will forever be a great source for advice and information.”