Carlos Rodriguez, a medical assistant lead at our school-based clinics, remembers being a young child living in Cuba. He hoped to live in the United States one day and dreamed of speeding off in his dream car, a Ford Mustang. Life in Cuba was full of obstacles for Carlos and his family because everything was controlled by the government. Even if you had a degree—like his uncle who was a doctor—you were living frugally, hoping to make ends meet to feed your family.
“It didn’t matter how educated you were,” Carlos shared. “If you studied hard and tried to reach your dreams the government would hold you back and not pay you what you deserved.”
In 1994, Carlos’s father decided to take a leap of faith and escaped from Cuba, in search of a better life. Carlos knew he made it safely when packages started coming his way with T-shirts and gifts with the American flag on them.
“I got disciplined at school and was told not to wear anything like that ever again,” Carlos recalled. “We couldn’t show anything off that our father sent us.”
Carlos’s mom eventually remarried and the hope of their own escape lingered. Finally, when Carlos was 16-years old, the family was given a chance at a better life.
“In 1998, my step-father applied for a visa to help get us away from Cuba,” Carlos explained. “When the news arrived in 2005 that we were selected it was a shock because it’s rare to leave. Visas aren’t given away here like in other countries. It felt like we won the lottery. ”
Because Carlos was only 16-years old at the time, he was penalized and could not come over with his family.
“In Cuba you are required to serve time in the service when you turn 18,” Carlos shared. “For that, they punished me and held me back from going with my family.”
For two years he stayed with his grandparents, waiting to turn 18.
Reunited Once Again
Carlos finally joined his family in Arizona, but life wasn’t instantly easy. He enrolled in high school not speaking any English and graduated later than all of his classmates when he was 21.
Since some of his family had worked in healthcare, Carlos decided it would be a good career for him as well. He attended Everest College in the evening and worked full-time during the day in order to get himself through school. After graduating Carlos accepted a job at Mountain Park.
“Carlos has always been a leader because he considers others,” Dagoberto Garcia, Operations Manager at our Maryvale Clinic said. “He is passionate about what he does and is always there to help his team. It doesn’t matter if it’s personal or work related, people know that they can count on him.”
Carlos received his dual role employee certification, helping better serve our patients’ linguistic needs.
Carlos started his career at Mountain Park as a medical assistant. His supervisor recognized his knack for making things more efficient, and Carlos eventually moved into a position that allowed him to travel between clinics, helping others improve their processes.
“Carlos was one of the medical assistants that everyone wanted to work with because he was very familiar with all the clinics and departments and was able to assist at a moment’s notice, without hesitation,” Sarah-Michelle Tayler, Talent Acquisition Manager said.
His work ethic and eagerness earned Carlos a lead medical assistant position.
“I was given the opportunity to join Mountain Park right out of school,” he said. “We do great work here and I love helping my community. I have had only great experiences and it helps that I have amazing coworkers.”
In his free time, Carlos enjoys traveling with his fiancé and two kids, and working out. He also loves working on cars—a skill he taught himself.
“I try to remember that life gets busy sometimes and I have so much to be grateful for,” he said. “I have a lot of support and I do my best to not get stressed out and always recognize what is important in that moment.”