Martha Macias-Rodriguez is currently working for UC Berkeley as a medical assistant for primary care at the Tang Center (UCB). Martha graduated from the Bay Area Medical Academy and delivered the graduation speech for her cohort, during which she posed and answered “the million dollar question: Why become an MA?”
We found her message to her fellow classmates inspirational, especially to those who have struggled to overcome mental health difficulties. We hope you do, too.
“To my fellow members of the class of 2022!
CONGRATULATIONS, WE DID IT!
We were able to finish a Medical Assistant Program in the middle of a pandemic. Give yourselves a round of applause.
As I was writing this speech, I felt incredibly proud of each and every one of you. We decided to join the medical field during one of the most terrifying and difficult times in our modern human history, and that is truly honorable. I am proud to be part of such a caring class that has demonstrated bravery and selflessness. Despite the many trials and tribulations that our class faced, we pushed through and finished strongly. Today we celebrate our hard work and dedication.
So, the million-dollar question: Why did we choose to become MAs?
For many, becoming a medical assistant is a stepping stone to other healthcare careers. Many of y’all want to be MDs, RNs, LVNs, PAs, and well all of the other letters of the alphabet. For many, the pandemic was a real eye-opener, realizing that some jobs are not really secured and were not considered “essential.”
Or, in my case, I joined BAMA because I was a bit lost. I knew I wanted to help people but I wasn’t too sure if a career in the medical field was right for me. To be honest, I didn’t think I had what it takes to become a Medical Assistant. So naturally, I was terrified to join the program. Even more so when I found out that we had to practice giving injections to one another (that was extremely terrifying).
A year ago, I would have never imagined myself standing here. A year ago, I couldn’t even see my future, much less imagine myself finishing a program and having a new profession. Truth is that I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety several years back, and my diagnosis has had a hold of me ever since.
Many people don’t really know what depression and anxiety feel like so allow me to share a quote that summarizes the feeling: “Having anxiety and depression is like being scared and tired at the same time. It’s the fear of failure but no urge to be productive. It’s wanting friends but hating to socialize. It’s wanting to be alone but not wanting to be lonely. It’s caring about everything then caring about nothing. It’s feeling everything at once, then feeling paralyzingly numb.“
A year ago during my therapy session, my therapist said something that infuriated me, but at the same time, it helped me. He said, “Martha, maybe you are just comfortable in your depression.” I was so angry. What kind of therapist is this? HOW CAN I BE COMFORTABLE IN MY DEPRESSION? I was so mad that I didn’t want to continue going to therapy anymore. But as the weeks passed by, I realized that I was indeed comfortable in my depression. I was familiar with my depressive cycles and already knew what to expect from them. I knew what to do to heal myself momentarily and it was much easier than trying to take on something new.
So there I was, truly comfortable in my depression. Ever since I understood what my therapist meant, I try my best to push myself to be uncomfortable.
And that is the reason why I joined the Bay Area Medical Academy (BAMA). I was terrified to join the program, I was terrified to draw blood and give injections. I pushed myself to attend every lab even when I felt broken. I pushed myself to attend my externship even when I felt like I wasn’t ready. And I pushed myself to deliver this speech.
Thanks to BAMA for giving me the opportunity and the tools needed to become a great M.A. I am now thriving in my new profession and loving every second of it. So, if I can leave you with a message today, it is to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. Push yourself even if it’s scary, even if you think you can’t do it. Dream big even when it is uncomfortable, and apply for the jobs that you think you won’t get. Remember life begins at the end of your comfort zone!!
And once again class of 2022, WE DID IT !!!!“