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ECC Grad Excited to Start Career in Vision Care

Edgecombe Community College graduate Sa’Quin Winstead has joined Herring Eye Associates in Rocky Mount as an ophthalmic technician. He completed programs in Medical Assisting and Ophthalmic Medical Personnel at ECC.

When Sa’Quin Winstead graduated from high school, he had planned to go straight into the workforce. But a change of heart led him to earn two degrees in health sciences at Edgecombe Community College, and he now is helping patients in his newfound career in vision care.

Winstead graduated from Nash Central High School in 2015. Though he was ready to go to work, he discussed his priorities with his family, who helped him recognize that he could be a role model to others by continuing his education.

“I realized that I could be the first person in my immediate family to go to college, and I knew that I could set an example for my younger brother,” he says.

He wanted to pursue a career in health care, so after talking to advisors at Edgecombe Community College, he decided on the Medical Assisting program, which focuses on both administrative and clinical roles in a medical facility.

Winstead learned about health insurance, scheduling appointments, and referrals, and he also developed skills in drawing blood, taking vital signs, giving vaccinations, setting up exam rooms, and conducting flu and strep tests.

“You have to be multi-skilled in the Medical Assisting program,” explains Kim Byron-Barnes, chair of ECC’s Medical Assisting and Ophthalmic Medical Personnel programs.

Winstead worked as an intern at the Opportunities Industrialization Center in Rocky Mount until he graduated from the Medical Assisting program in May 2018. He then started working at OIC full time.

He wanted to continue his studies and focus on a more specific medical field. When Byron-Barnes told his class about the new Ophthalmic Medical Personnel program that ECC was set to launch in the fall of 2018, he knew it was the right fit.

In the Ophthalmic Medical Personnel program, Winstead learned about performing vision and diagnostic tests on the eyes, medications, and patient instructions. He interned at Rocky Mount Eye while he was attending classes, and he was all set to begin working for the practice when he graduated in early 2020.

“But then the pandemic hit,” Winstead says, “and I spent close to a year sitting at home with my parents. I was terrified for them, and the quarantine was taking a mental toll on me. I had to do something.”

That’s when he got a call from Byron-Barnes in March of this year. She told him that Herring Eye Associates in Rocky Mount was looking for an ophthalmic technician, and he interviewed and got the job.

“Sa’Quin was a class leader and a well-rounded individual,” observes Byron-Barnes, “He always wanted things to be perfect, and I know he’ll do a great job for Herring Eye.”

“I’m excited about my new job, and I am indebted to Edgecombe Community College. I’d give my experience at ECC a 10 out of 10,” Winstead says.

“If I could go higher, I’d give it 1,000 out of 10.”