For Ross’ Rafanee Smith, school is an opportunity to learn, grow and be a role model for her siblings and young son.
“Your age doesn’t matter,” says Smith, 34, “if you want to achieve something then go out, work hard and make it happen.”
Smith was a licensed cosmetologist for ten years before she began her journey with Ross in 2019 by enrolling in the registered medical assistant program. She began as a hybrid student studying online and attending the Ross campus in Sylvania, Ohio, to complete her proficiencies. Like every Ross student in early 2020, Smith’s education, and life, were turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
She was determined to continue her education online, and took the first opportunity to return to campus in June of 2020. Smith graduated and passed her RMA exam in November 2020.
But the pandemic wasn’t the hardest part of 2020 for Smith. She also had to navigate through the devastating loss of her mother, who was her biggest supporter. As a single mom, Smith says she had to stay strong, persevering in order to support and be an example for her three-year-old son and her younger siblings.
“It was hard but I didn’t have any other choice but to keep going,” says Smith, “Even when I wanted to break down or stop. I had to be strong to support my family.”
Smith channeled that strength throughout her externship, which became a full-time MA position upon passing her exam. She was promoted to office coordinator in the Spring of 2021, around the same time she enrolled in the Medical Assistant Associate of Applied Science degree program through Ross College Online. Smith became the first person in her family to earn a college degree when she graduated from the program this past March.
Since graduating, Smith has returned to Ross as a student aid at the Sylvania campus. She continues to work full-time, but has her eyes set on becoming a registered nurse, an MA instructor at Ross, or both.
“Teaching is in my future,” she says, “I like helping and teaching others. I especially like that look when a student finally gets it. That ah-ha moment is great.”
Outside of Ross and work, Smith loves reading motivational books, listening to good music and spending time with her son as well as her family. She approaches each day as an opportunity to have fun and make the best of life.
Smith will walk across the stage on April 29, as part of the Ross Education graduation ceremony in Sylvania, Ohio.