When Kandace Sparks went to work for Trans World Airlines back in 1990 as an international flight attendant, she made a promise to her parents that she would eventually finish college. “I had a seven year career with the airline; I started flying at age 19,” she recalled. “I was able to travel all over the world many times over, even to places I didn’t know existed.”
Kandace is now grounded, so to speak, and fulfilling that promise to her parents by going to college and graduating. And she certainly has a bright future in front of her.
The West Orange resident earned her Associate in Applied Science in Health Information Technology from Essex County College last summer and is currently a Medical Informatics Engineering student at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), where she is working towards a Bachelor of Science in Medical Informatics Engineering. She graduated Essex with a 3.78 GPA and currently has a perfect 4.0 GPA at NJIT.
She also works full-time as a Senior Executive Assistant to the Senior Vice President of Strategy, Corporate Development and Corporate Finance at Conduent, Inc. in Florham Park. An exhausting schedule, to be sure. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Kandace worked many jobs after leaving the airline as an in-flight service manager. With two young children (now ages nine and five), Kandace figured it was definitely time to fulfill that long ago promise and make her parents proud. ”And they are proud,” she added.
“I’m now in an emerging field with so many opportunities available in healthcare,” said Kandace of her career choice. “I want to be able to change people’s lives for the better and that’s the most important part of this degree,” she said.
Health Information Technology majors find careers with hospitals, long-term care facilities and other healthcare providers handling electronic medical file storage and patient management. Medical Informatics Engineering expands career opportunities in the healthcare field.
Kandace entered Essex through the federally-funded Nail-It program and completed her Associates degree requirements in 17 months. Essex’s articulation agreement with NJIT enabled her to transfer all her credits to the neighboring four-year school. “In my last semester at ECC I was able to take a few classes at NJIT.”
Kandace’s potential was picked up several years ago by Essex’s Dr. Evadne-Madu, who is a Nursing professor at the College. “She is a classy young lady who is packaged with wisdom and knowledge. She has always strived to be the very best. Undoubtedly, Kandace is one of ‘Essex’s Jewels.’”
As she moves on, Kandace said she will never forget Essex County College. “Essex helped me on so many levels.” She noted that Barbara Hughes, who served as the College’s Nail-It Director, “gave me extensive and meticulous direction, especially coming back to school after 30 years. Overall, the College was incredibly supportive and nurturing. I plan to be an active alumna and give back to the institution that believed in my potential.”