Teachers can spend an entire career trying to figure out how to connect with students. For Clinical Medical Assisting and Clinical and Administrative Medical Assisting instructor, Candace Hunter, it just comes naturally.
“Building trust,” says Mrs. Hunter. “I like to share stories about things I have witnessed during my 23-years as a Medical Assistant. We talk about things like how to handle a difficult patient and about how you can react the way you would like to, or how to react in a professional way,” she says.
Candace likes to lean in to the challenges of teaching students who have very diverse backgrounds and work experience.
“I really enjoy it when students come in and they don’t know anything medical,” she says. “To see the change from where they start to what they become is very gratifying. Not only is it affirmation that they are in the right program, it is a self-esteem booster for a lot of these students.”
It does not take CMA and CAMA students very long to figure out that they are in good hands in Mrs. Hunter’s class.
“She is a caring teacher who puts her focus and time in to her students,” says student Michelle Navarro. “The class, as a whole, thrives to want to do better because of her structure and being a good role model so we don’t want to disappoint her.”
Then, there is the Fred Factor. Writer Mark Sanborn’s bestseller, The Fred Factor, was about his postman, Fred, and the extraordinary service he provided. Sanborn identifies four principles that some people have that demonstrate the Fred Factor. Those are individuals who: choose to make a positive difference each day, have a heart for people, change ordinary moments into memorable ones, and lead by example.
Fresno Campus Director, Sumer Avila, took his inspiration and set up a nomination system to recognize those attitudes and behaviors with a Fred Factor award for students, staff and faculty.
Recently, an Orientation for new students was interrupted in order to present Candace Hunter with nine Fred Factor Awards. “It was great because many students at the Orientation would be in my class the following Monday, and they got to see that and maybe think, ‘Hey, we’ve got an awesome teacher,’” says Candace.
Candace is quick to credit SJVC with providing programs that give graduates the best opportunity for success. “I admire the fact that at SJVC we go more in depth in student training,” she says. “Our students have an advantage when they go out there because they have more knowledge.”
Her students feel both the weight of the medical programs’ expectations and the support to do well. “She makes sure we understand what we are learning and cares if we aren’t doing well,” says Kathryn Wilson. “She wants to help us to succeed in our career.”
Candace creates an equal opportunity learning environment where each student gets her full attention.
“Lots of students come in with a lot of uncertainty and very little direction,” says Candace. “But, they know they want to have a better life, to provide better for their families, but they’re not sure how to do it.
She starts with professionalism; one of the things, she admits, that is the hardest to teach.
“I explain that in past jobs they might have been able to come to work late, dress how they want, use swear words or talk back to a supervisor…but not when they get into their new profession,” says Candace.
Candace knew about this code of professional behavior long before she entered the workforce.
“My dad, Harold, was my hero, she says. “He worked long hours as a truck driver and always had good words of advice: get to work before you are supposed to start. Don’t expect anyone to hand anything to you, you will only achieve anything with hard work, and never settle for less.”
Candace remains a steadfast role model, as her students gradually embrace the skills and behaviors of their new profession.
“It just feels great to be a part of someone’s professional and personal growth,” says Candace.
It makes her time at home with her husband, Rayme, and their two dogs all the sweeter.