Monica Morales Turns Tragedy into Triumph & Prepares to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician
After the death of her son in 2021 to an over-the-counter drug overdose, Monica Morales’s worst nightmare was her new reality.
She’d been dealing with her son’s substance abuse for years but wasn’t aware of the many drugs that were readily available to people that could potentially be harmful.
“My son was an addict, and I spent most nights awake with worry,” she shared. “Because of the battle we experienced with my son and these medicines, I decided I needed to learn everything I could about the drugs and how they affect the body so I can ultimately spread awareness in the hopes of saving even one life.”
That’s when Morales decided to pursue a career as a pharmacy technician. Her son was her motivation, and she was determined to learn everything she could about medication.
“I want to know the names of as many drugs as possible; I want to know their mechanism of action, the side effects and contraindications,” Morales said. “With this knowledge, maybe I can save another mother from the same heartache I’ve experienced.”
The Right Fit
Familiar with Oconee Fall Line Technical College (OFTC), Morales knew of its positive reputation and enrolled in the college’s pharmacy technology program.
A career as a pharmacy technician would allow Morales to be involved in the medical field, but not directly involved in patient care, which is something she knew she wanted. “I knew I wanted to make a difference, and I believed by arming myself with knowledge about medications I could possibly have an impact on someone who is struggling with an addiction.”
Once she got to OFTC, Morales felt welcomed and knew she was in the right place.
As a student she’s experienced the flexibility of class schedules, small class sizes, relationships with instructors, and affordable tuition.
“It’s a very different experience than a four-year college or university which lacks the one-on-one education offered at OFTC,” she said. “I know if I ever need extra instruction at OFTC I will find an instructor willing to help. That’s not always the case at other colleges.”
Affordability was also a standout for Morales. “I fell into a lot of debt in my early twenties from student loans,” she said. “It took me years to recover. With OFTC, I qualified for financial aid, and I owe nothing. It’s a relief to not have to worry about how I am going to pay for my education. Learning should never be a financial hardship.”
“OFTC combines traditional learning with technical education,” she added. “It gives you the basis you need to be successful in your chosen field and you can do it without going into thousands of dollars of debt or moving 100 miles from home.”
Inspired and Confident
Morales is in her second semester of OFTC’s pharmacy technology program and is expected to complete her program at the end of the summer semester.
After graduating, she hopes to become employed at a local hospital as a certified pharmacy technician. But Morales doesn’t plan to stop there. She says her time at OFTC has inspired her to go even further.
“After working as a pharmacy technician for a few years, I’d like to earn a teaching certificate to one day teach pharmacy to future technicians,” she said. “Learning under my current instructor, Mr. Jack Shepherd, has been my favorite part of OFTC’s program. He has truly inspired me. His knowledge and experience give me the confidence that I am being prepared to be a successful pharmacy technician, and I’d like to be that inspiration to others one day.”
And with OFTC’s pharmacy technology students receiving a 100% pass-rate on the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) for 18 years running, Morales’s confidence in her preparation is not misguided.
Looking back at her life over the past year, Morales recognizes the growth that’s occurred in her own life. When she first enrolled at OFTC, she was motivated, but her confidence was lacking. After spending a small amount of time at OFTC, that’s all changed.
“My overall experience at OFTC has made me far more confident in my abilities to accomplish my goals,” she said. “The outstanding instructors I’ve encountered here have had faith in me and that has made a huge difference in my life.”