STC graduate finds love and a career in the RGV
From retail to health care, South Texas College graduate Esmeralda Arellano could never have imagined that when she moved to the Rio Grande Valley six years ago she would be graduating from STC’s Medical Coding Specialist program.
“My profession is about converting medical diagnoses and procedures into an alphanumeric code that gets sent for billing purposes to insurance or private pay. I would have never thought I would have a career in the medical field, but here I am,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier to be part of this profession that is so important; you usually don’t see us, but you can find us behind the scenes doing all the work necessary so patients aren’t wrongly charged.”
Born in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Arellano migrated to California with her family as a baby and then settled in Fort Worth when she was 4 years old.
Then, in 2016, she moved to McAllen to start a new chapter with the love of her life.
“I met my wife online and had a long-distance relationship for over a year. It came to a point when one of us had to move to be closer to each other, so I decided to leave everything behind to start a new life with her in McAllen,” she shared. “Even though I was raised in a part of Fort Worth that is predominately Hispanic, coming here was still sort of a culture shock. Through the years I’ve grown to love and appreciate the culture, it feels like home now.”
For Arellano, 33, her wife and the dream of adding to their family has been her main inspiration to go to college and find a career.
“This is my first time going to school after graduating high school in 2007, I just never got interested in college because I had to work and sometimes provide for my family,” she said. “My wife is a fifth-grade teacher with a bachelor’s degree in social work, most of her relatives are teachers. Being surrounded by such positive energy has been a huge motivator for me to better myself for our family and our future together.”
In high school, Arellano had an interest in Cosmetology and even worked at a salon for a year, but it just wasn’t a right fit. From then on, her background of work has been restaurants, grocery stores, retail and most recently a cell phone company.
This job carries a lot of responsibility, but I’m here for the right reasons, I’m grateful for the trust put in me and I’m certain I will do good job because I truly enjoy this profession. I have always tried to have compassion and make people feel comfortable with good energy so I’m happy I ended up in health care.
“I started looking through all the different programs here in the Valley to find my own path, and Medical Coding Specialist is the program that got my attention; it was also a short-term commitment because it’s only three semesters. I just didn’t want to waste more time for my career to start,” she said.
From her first semester, Arellano has kept a 4.0 GPA, an indicator that she’s on the right track.
“I enjoy it so much, everything I’ve learned is really interesting. I’m the type of person that always wants to research and look for the answers, I think that’s what kept my interest in the program,” she said.
During the past few months, Arellano was assigned to do her required practicum at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, an opportunity that let her prove her worth as a medical coding specialist and even earn a job before graduating.
“My duties were split between the medical records and coding department, it was amazing to see the real-life cycle of the health care process,” she said. “STC definitely prepared me for the transition from the classroom to reality. All of my instructors taught me what I needed to know and set us up for success, I couldn’t be more thankful for them, they’re so inspiring”
Arellano proved to be an efficient and fast coder, which made her supervisors encourage her to apply for a full-time position.
“I’m grateful that they saw the potential in me and gave me a position even before graduating, it just goes to show that anything’s possible when you set your mind to it,” she said. “I’m excited for this opportunity, it’s clear to me that our patients are the most important thing and I’m certain that with all of my customer service experience I can be of service for them.”
Today, Arellano has fallen in love with the profession and plans to return to STC for an associate degree in Health Information Technology.
“This job carries a lot of responsibility, but I’m here for the right reasons, I’m grateful for the trust put in me and I’m certain I will do good job because I truly enjoy this profession,” she said. “I have always tried to have compassion and make people feel comfortable with good energy so I’m happy I ended up in health care.”
For more information on the Medical Coding Specialist Certificate or other programs offered at STC’s Nursing and Allied Health Division visit nah.southtexascollege.edu/ or call 956-872-3100.