Aiken Technical College
"Aiken Tech was great for me because I was able to pick up night classes and choose a schedule that worked for my life."
My name is Kambre Curry. I am a single parent and have a 15-year-old daughter. I didn’t get into EMS until I was 32, when I had a semi midlife crisis. I realized I hated what I was doing at the time and decided to go back to school and do something in healthcare. I came to Aiken Tech in 2014, and now have my advanced EMT degree.
How did you decide to pursue EMT?
I graduated high school in 1999, and loved animals so I worked at boarding facilities for animals and a couple veterinary offices. Ultimately, I ended up working in the research department at Augusta University Medical Center. My department oversaw the healthcare and welfare of research animals. It got to the point I didn’t enjoy going to work anymore, but my mom was like, “Don’t quit your job. You’ve been there for 10 years.”
I was speaking with one of my former coworkers who had quit to become a firefighter. I looked into the EMS program at AU, and when I found out that Aiken Tech offered an Associate’s Degree along with the program, I decided to come here
What pushed you to take that next step?
I had been promoted several times at AUMC, and reached a point where I couldn’t move up until a supervisor left. There were several instances where our management and rules were changed. That pushed me out.
After my mom told me not to quit, I laid in the bed listening to the eleven o’clock news. There was an article on the news about a shortage in EMS that night. That was the sign I needed. Within a couple of months, I enrolled in Aiken Tech.
Was higher ed on your radar at that point?
My mom is wonderful, but she wasn’t that type to steer me into a career or to talk to me about what I wanted to be when I grew up. Going to college after high school just wasn’t something on my mind at age 18. I worked throughout high school jobs at Walmart and McDonalds, and realized that wasn’t something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My dad worked in the research department at the VA hospital. That’s how I got into that world.
What’s a misconception you think people have about technical college?
When I was in high school, everyone was pushed to go to university. They said it would look better on a resume. I looked at going to a university simply because of the stigma around a technical college. In reality, technical college is geared towards older adults who have been in the workforce and have families. It was great for me because I was able to pick up night classes and choose a schedule that worked for my life.
What obstacles did you have to overcome on your journey?
My biggest thing was childcare. Like I said, I have great parents and they helped me a lot. I felt a little guilty having to leave my daughter with them during the day or asking them to pick her up at school because I was in class, but I had to work full-time in order to support both of us. Having to work and go to school, come home, be a parent, study, cook, do all of my grown-up things and incorporate being a student — it wasn’t easy. I sacrificed some friends and relationships because I had to change my priorities. Even in the program here, my director, Jonathan Jones, is very supportive. If there was something that came up with my family or outside of school, he would help. I wouldn’t have been able to afford to come here if Jonathan hadn’t helped me get a grant.
What did you learn about yourself along the way?
I learned that I’m pretty resilient. I adapt and overcome.
What advice would you give others on their journey?
To 18-year-old Kambre, I would say go to college right out of high school. Even if you don’t go to a university, pick a community college or a technical college. Pick a major. You don’t have to stick to that major. The world is changing. If you decide you don’t want to be an EMT or a police officer or a radiology technician, you can always change your major. Most of the time, the things that you’ve already done for one degree will go to apply to a different degree.
To older adults, I would say that technical college is a little more convenient for older people with the night classes, and very affordable.