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Meet Sierra Alward – Asher College Graduate

Sierra Alward is an Asher College success story.  Sierra graduated from Asher College in May 2014 with a certificate in Medical Billing and Coding. She received her first job offer before graduation and passed the Certified Professional Coding exam on her first try. She currently works for Nevada Heart and Vascular as a coder and is planning to continue her education and pursue a bachelor’s degree in Health Management.

Today, Sierra is a self-assured, ambitious and positive young woman.  But her road to success was not easy. When Sierra was younger she lacked the confidence and follow-through needed to succeed. At age 17, she dropped out of high school and got her GED. She immediately went to work fulltime at a fast food restaurant. After years of working in restaurants and in retail, Sierra decided she wanted to make a change and began attending college. Unfortunately, half a year from graduation she experienced a family emergency that resulted in her termination from the college. She appealed but was unsuccessful. After months of hard work Sierra was back at square one.

Sierra graciously took the time to share her challenges and experiences.

Being terminated from your college months before graduating must have been difficult. 

I felt like I was never going to accomplish anything. I thought, “I can’t do it…why try again.” So I stayed at my job. But I was sick of being broke all the time. I wanted to do something else…something more. So I went back to school.

Why did you choose Asher College?

I stayed friends with the admissions advisor at the other college. He recommended Asher College.

What was your experience at Asher?

Amazing. Everyone at Asher was very welcoming. I wasn’t just a number. The other school was like a factory. Asher is a college. They really care about your education…they really truly care about their students. They even found me my first job before I graduated.

Tell me about your classes at Asher?

The curriculum was challenging and very in-depth.  But the instructors really work with you if you fall behind and help you succeed. Everyone works at their own pace and there is no pressure to be like anyone else. The classes truly helped me prepare for my career and for my CPC exam.

You are a mother of a four-year-old girl. How did the class schedules meet with your hectic schedule?

The class schedules were really flexible. I had never heard of a college allowing you to create your own schedule. It was great.

You said before you attended Asher you lacked confidence. When did that change?

Everyone at Asher was supportive and they would push me to succeed. They made me a student leader and teacher’s assistant. They asked me to mentor new students. That made me feel like I was doing something…it made me feel that I was successful and important and that people could look up to me.

And now you are preparing to pursue your bachelor’s degree?

I never thought I would get a bachelor’s degree. But now I’m getting ready to go back to school and get my BA in Health Management. Getting my foot in the door in the medical field inspired me to continue. I thought “Why stop here? There is no reason that I can’t earn my bachelor’s.” My grandfather used to say “The years are going to go by anyway. Do you want to look back and see that you hadn’t done it?” I know my path getting here wasn’t easy but I don’t regret it. I’m glad I choose the path that I did because I wouldn’t be where I am now.