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Maureen McDermott challenges medical disability and earns IT certificate

Medical Administrative Assistant and Service Desk Technician Graduate

Maureen McDermott spent the last 15 years of her life on medical disability. She thought she would not be able to work again after a quarter of a century-long career as an administrative assistant. Many people would have been devastated by this prospect, but McDermott chose to see this obstacle as an opportunity to jumpstart a new career by enrolling at Summit Academy OIC.


“I was on a city bus coming from downtown St. Paul, and I saw a sign for Summit Academy,” said McDermott. When she learned her tuition could be covered without taking out loans, she immediately wondered, “How do I sign up?” McDermott originally enrolled in the Medical Administrative Assistant (MAA) program in 2020.


“When I was in the MAA classes, I wasn’t moving at all. I was still using my walker, but I couldn’t move my arms very high,” said McDermott. Learning online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she used her home as a classroom, earning her MAA certificate and tutoring her classmates during introductory portions of training.


McDermott’s tech-savviness called attention to Summit instructors and peers who encouraged her to enter the Information Technology (IT) field. “I remember a lot from [technology classes] in high school, and I graduated in 1987. The names [of software and tools] have changed, but everything else is still the same,” said McDermott. After undergoing spine and back surgery in 2021, McDermott re-enrolled at Summit to pursue her IT certificate.


McDermott interned at Ameriprise Financial for two weeks, and she hopes to land an IT service desk position there upon graduation. “I have come back to school for a second term and graduated a second time. I’ve got my IT certificate, and I’m walking and healthy,” said McDermott. “[Summit] proved to myself that I can still go out, I can still do a 9 to 5 job, and I’m not going to be on disability my whole life.”

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