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TCC alum found her future in TCC’s Health Information Management program

Mōnika Young longed for a career in health care that didn’t involve direct patient care.

After 14 years of working as a dental hygienist, she wanted a new challenge and found it at Tidewater Community College.

Attending an information session on the college’s Health Information Management program, she learned about an associate degree that applies information technology and business to health care

“I had heard good things about TCC,” Mōnika said. “I got excited. You can go full time. You can go part time. The hours were convenient.”

She alternated between attending morning or evening classes – the same material is taught in both sessions so students can choose the most convenient option for their schedules. The flexibility allowed her to continue working as a hygienist while attending college.

Scholarships helped pay the way for the 67-credit associate. Twice Mōnika earned the Virginia Health Information Management Association award for a total of $4,000. An American Health Information Management Association scholarship knocked $1,000 off tuition, and its local chapter awarded her a $500 scholarship.

“My professors are the ones who told me about the scholarships,” Mōnika said.

“She is the first student I have had to earn all three!” said Amy Shay, program head for HIM at TCC. “Mōnika has demonstrated excellent ability to set goals and be persistent in achieving them.  She was a model student who will go far in her new career.”

Mōnika hadn’t had a computer class since 2002, but she became proficient quickly thanks to hands-on training at TCC’s Regional Health Professions Center on the Virginia Beach Campus. She credits the HIM faculty for keeping classes interactive and engaging.

“It’s definitely challenging, but the faculty is always there to answer any question,” she said.

Mōnika was also one of the students interviewed when the HIM program underwent reaccreditation earlier this year.

The HIM program achieved reaccreditation for 10 years, the highest recognition awarded by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education.

Mōnika completed an internship at Sentara as part of the TCC program. She passed the Registered Health Information Technician examination to earn an industry credential. TCC boasts a 100 percent pass rate on the exam.

That certification and a recommendation by Shay secured her a job shortly after graduating with her associate in health information management.

Mōnika, 35, was hired on the spot for a validator/indexer position at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. She doesn’t work directly with patients. Instead, customer service, accuracy, attention to detail and ethics are important qualities in her job, which requires processing of electronic health records.

 “I was at crossroads when I came to TCC,” said Mōnika, who just passed the Certified Coding Specialist exam awarding her another credential that will enable her to advance in the field. “I got a great education with teachers who were knowledgeable and experienced. I got a job in a field where there are lots of possibilities for growth.”

Information sessions for the program are held the third Thursday of every month (except December) at 1 p.m. at the Regional Health Professions Center. Contact Shay at or 757-822-7262 for information.

Nine from TCC earn recognition from All-Virginia Academic Team

Nine Tidewater Community College students have been nominated to the Phi Theta Kappa 2019 All-Virginia Academic Team.

They are Dakota Bernacki and Katelyn Solis from the Chesapeake Campus; Charleston Yancey and Jeffrey White from the Norfolk Campus; Cynthia Law and Jordan Caravas from the Portsmouth Campus; and Alethea Lim, Christopher Metzger and Jason Yarbrough from the Virginia Beach Campus.

They will represent the college this spring when Virginia’s Community Colleges will recognize them and other team members from across the state at an awards luncheon in Richmond. From that group of community college students, 10 will be eligible for national awards.

Dakota BernackiDakota Bernacki

 Homeschooled through high school, the Windsor resident graduated from TCC in December 2018 with an Associate of Science in Engineering and a 4.0 GPA. Bernacki worked at his small “geek squad” business while earning his degree. “My professors were phenomenal,” he said. “It wasn’t easy — it’s engineering — but it was definitely worth it. Starting at TCC was the right choice for me.” Bernacki will work toward his bachelor’s in computer engineering from Old Dominion University or Virginia Commonwealth University this fall.

Jordan CaravasJordan Caravas

The Smithfield High School graduate is earning her Associate of Science in Science. She holds a 3.8 GPA and plans to transfer to Christopher Newport University to work toward her bachelor’s in organismal biology when she graduates in May. “I really like it here,” she said of TCC. “They have everything I need here; classes have been great.”

Cynthia LawCynthia Law

The first generation college student will graduate with her Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice in May and will remain at TCC to complete her Associate of Science in Social Sciences. Law initially wanted a career in forensics, but her work-study job at TCC opened her eyes to something that interested her more. “I really want to do something hands-on with people, and I love children,” said Law, who holds a 3.89 GPA and plans to transfer to Old Dominion.

Alethea LimAlethea Lim

The Landstown High School graduate will finish with an Associate of Science in Science and an Associate of Science in Social Sciences. The student ambassador on the Virginia Beach Campus holds a 4.0 GPA and plans to transfer to Old Dominion this fall and major in biology. “TCC offered me a full scholarship paying for my tuition,” she said. “The college has given me more opportunities to learn while giving back to my community. I really enjoy how personal the professors can be and how understanding they are.”

Christopher Metzger

The Richmond resident will graduate with an Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Management. Metzger chose the TCC program because it is accredited by the licensing body for health information management. “I’m looking to do data analytics or something with medical research,” he said. He holds a 4.0 GPA and is planning for a future in the Sentara system.

Katelyn SolisKatelyn Solis

The Great Bridge High graduate came to TCC with no firm career goals. Now she plans to be an anesthesiologist. She will graduate in May with an Associate of Science in Science and a 3.7 GPA. She works as a pharmacy technician and volunteers with Edmarc Hospice for Children. She plans to transfer to Virginia Tech to earn her bachelor’s in biology and later apply to medical school. “I encourage students to take advantage of everything TCC has to offer,” she said. “I found a lot of help with the First Year Success advisors and at the Learning Assistance Center, where tutoring is free.”

Jeff WhiteJeffrey White

 Unsure about his career goals, the pro tem of Norfolk’s Student Government Association took a year off to travel abroad before coming to TCC. He found his path and earned a 4.0 GPA and an Associate of Science in Science in December 2018. Now studying biology at Morehouse College, White plans to attend medical school and pursue a career as an endocrinologist.

Charleston YanceyCharleston Yancey

 The vice president of Norfolk’s Student Government Association will graduate in May with his Associate of Science in Social Sciences. The Norfolk native developed a love of public speaking at TCC in Professor Jaclyn Randle’s public speaking class. “She the greatest teacher I ever had,” he said. “My time at TCC has been transformative, and I benefitted a lot from taking her class.” Yancey, who holds a 3.85 GPA, plans to transfer to Virginia Wesleyan University.

Jason YarbroughJason Yarbrough

 The hospital corpsman from the U.S. Navy graduated with his Associate of Science in Science last fall and will graduate with an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts in May. He is already enrolled at Old Dominion where he is pursuing a bachelor’s with a pre-med concentration. “My experience with TCC has been nothing but positive,” he said. “I thoroughly appreciate the way the availability of classes is administered. The scheduling allows for nontraditional students, like me, convenience and range. The professors are also very mindful of their students’ time beyond the classroom, cooperate when needed, and are more than understanding of certain unforeseeable circumstances.”  Yarbrough holds a 4.0 GPA at TCC.