STC international student overcomes discrimination to become a health care professional
South Texas College international student Maynor Antunez has found a path for himself that he never anticipated in the Medical Assistant Technology program after overcoming several struggles and leaving his country of origin
After fleeing from his homeland due to lack of opportunity, South Texas College student Maynor Antunez has found a path for himself that he never anticipated and is now weeks away from two major accomplishments: becoming a United States citizen and graduating with an associate degree in Medical Assistant Technology.
“I value having a job and an education more than anyone because I struggled and sacrificed so much to be here, to have a better life,” he shared. “Back home I did not have these many choices and I would constantly be discriminated for my sexual orientation; after living in the United States for only three years I already have a family and a job before graduating college. It was all worth it.”
Originally from Honduras, Antunez’ journey to the Rio Grande Valley was a rigorous one that intertwines courage, resilience and a twist of fate, and it all started when he decided to move to Mexico by himself at 22 years old in 2014.
“My dream was always to become a nurse. After graduating high school I tried more than once to get into nursing school in Honduras, but it was expensive,” the 31-year-old said. “It was exhausting to not see an end to my struggles so I left my family and friends behind and migrated to Tapachula, Mexico seeking better opportunities.”
Antunez then moved around the country working a variety of jobs in restaurants and call centers, even becoming a certified nursing assistant, still pursuing his ultimate goal of aiding and caring for patients.
While living in Monterrey in 2017, he met his husband, an Rio Grande Valley native living in California. Their connection remained unbreakable when Antunez relocated to Tijuana, defying borders to cultivate their relationship.
In 2019, they got engaged and decided to make Weslaco their forever home. As Antunez prepared to be admitted into the U.S. to be with the love of his life, he spent a year in Progreso, Mexico studying English.
“I’m the type of person that constantly wants to move forward. I wanted to be ready because one of my first goals in this new life was to get an education and my dream career,” he shared. “As much as I love nursing, I wanted an alternative that would allow me to fast track to a job while still having a connection with patients.”
Putting his goals on pause because of the pandemic, Antunez decided there was no more time to waste and enrolled at STC’s Medical Assistant Technology program in 2022.
“This is the perfect combination of patient care and administration duties in the medical field. You learn about everything,” he explained. “You also accumulate certificates along the way; I was already walking the stage after one semester.”
I value having a job and an education more than anyone because I struggled and sacrificed so much to be here, to have a better life
STC’s Medical Assistant Technology program prepares students to work in a variety of medical centers including hospitals, laboratories, medical offices, specialty clinics and school districts alongside the school nurse.
Students can obtain a Medical Office Specialist and a Medical Assistant Technology certificate on their way to the associate degree.
“There were many programs out there, but STC was the better choice because of its credibility,” he said. “I was nervous because I did not have any previous education in the U.S. but all I had to do was revalidate my high school, take the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) and I was in.”
During his second semester, Antunez was recognized as one of the most outstanding students in his class which led him to land a job at the place where he was assigned his practicum, Nuestra Clinica del Valle.
“That was exactly my goal, to get a job before graduating and I did it,” he said. “As medical assistants we do everything from phlebotomy to electrocardiograms (EKG), scheduling, confirming appointments, vaccines, you name it; there’s just so much more work to be done in a clinic than people realize.”
Antunez is set to graduate December 2023 but has already become a certified medical assistant after passing the certification exam from the American Association of Medical Assistants earlier this year.
“It’s been an amazing experience to actually put in practice scenarios and procedures that we learn in class,” he said. “The best thing that STC has given me is the reward of graduating with a job, and the knowledge that I get to use in the clinic every day.”
With his U.S. citizenship ceremony scheduled for late October, Antunez’ next goal is to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Medical and Health Services Management with STC.
“I love working with patients, but now I want to focus more on the administration side to look for ways to move up,” he said. “I would advise people interested in the medical field that can’t decide between nursing and health care administration to come to this program. This is the perfect place to start because you get the best of both worlds.”
For more information on the Medical Assistant Technology or other Nursing and Allied Health programs offered at STC visit nah.southtexascollege.edu or call 956-872-3100.