Toyia Parker has held a lot of titles: wife, mother, fitness instructor, student, and most recently, scholarship recipient.

In December 2022, Toyia completed her associate degree in general studies at Malcolm X College. Immediately after graduation, she began classes in the Medical Assisting program and received her advanced certificate in the summer of 2023.

Prior to returning to school, Toyia worked as a fitness instructor for 11 years. She wanted to further her career and help others, and since her clients already looked to her for answers about health and their bodies, she chose to pursue medical assisting.

The instructors at Malcolm X and the training Toyia received set her up for success during her program and in her future career.

“It was a wonderful experience to have this hands-on training,” she said. “We got vaccine training and did blood drawings on each other.”

Toyia felt supported every step of the journey. City Colleges’ partner One Million Degrees offered her personal, academic, and financial support during her education. She was also a Project MPACT recipient, which covered the costs of her tuition and provided stipends, job training, and professional skills development to help her get to work after graduation.

In return, Toyia gave back to Malcolm X and her community when she could. She partnered with the Wellness Center to teach yoga at a women’s event at the college. She was also a volunteer medical assistant at a Walgreens vaccine clinic.

All that Toyia has given to others is coming back to her. She received a $1,000 scholarship through American Medical Technologists and plans to use the money to continue her education. Toyia was also among 60 recipients of the Cook County Health Foundation’s Provident Scholarship, a $10,000 award that she plans to use for scrubs, a laptop, and to earn more certifications.

Thanks to all the support she received from One Million Degrees, Project MPACT, and her instructors at Malcolm X, Toyia feels ready for a successful new career.

“Malcolm X helped me build more confidence in myself,” she said. “The Medical Assisting program helped me realize I can overcome a lot of things.”