Pinning ceremony honors Gaston College Medical Assisting students


A pinning ceremony on September 17 honored 12 graduates of the Gaston College Medical Assisting program. The ceremony was held on a drive-through basis due to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. As is traditional in health care programs, the graduates received a pin, to be worn on their uniforms, that signifies the completion of the requirements for the Associate in Applied Science Degree in Medical Assisting. The 12 AAS degree students are:

  • Jennifer Coffey and Jesus Gonzalez from Lincolnton.
  • Cathrine Cozad, Brittani Maney, Faith Rankin, Takeia Reid, and Kaitlyn Windham from Gastonia.
  • Kaitlyn Greason from Kings Mountain.
  • Jessica Lane from Bessemer City.
  • Lauren Robison from Belmont.
  • Harlie Graham and Dara Williams from Dallas.

Nine of the 12 AAS have successfully taken the American Association of Medical Assistants certification exam and have earned their CMA (AAMA) credential. Seven of the 12 students have accepted jobs.

“Our pinning ceremony is a symbolic welcoming of graduates into the medical assisting profession,” said Dena Bridges, Program Chair for Medical Assisting and Phlebotomy. “When people ask ‘What is a Medical Assistant?’ I am always happy to tell them that this multi-skilled person is one who is cross-trained for all areas of a physician’s office practice. MAs can run the front office, schedule appointments, code insurance, and can assist the physician with examinations and minor surgery and also know how to do a variety of laboratory procedures. The Medical Assistant is the most versatile member of the allied health team.”

Gaston College Graduate Dara Williams posing with daughter and an instructor

Graduate Dara Williams is congratulated by her daughter Lilee Bentley and Dena Bridges, Program Coordinator for Medical Assisting and Phlebotomy at the pinning ceremony. Ms. Williams, who was awarded a $500 scholarship from the Gaston County Chapter of Medical Assistants in 2019, is the second Gaston College Medical Assisting student in five years to achieve a perfect score on her exam.

Graduate Dara Williams, who was awarded a $500 scholarship from the Gaston County Chapter of Medical Assistants in 2019, is the second Gaston College MA student in five years to achieve a perfect score on her exam.

“I pushed myself hard to excel in this program,” said Williams, “but honestly I was surprised I got a perfect score in the exam. I consider myself lucky to have the love and support of my daughter and my fiancé. I couldn’t have done it without them or the support of my friends and classmates, and I thank all my instructors and others at Gaston College, like Peggy Grigg, secretary in the Health and Human Services division, for everything they did for me. Special thanks to Melanie Skinner, Chair of the Veterinary Medical Technology department, and Kelly Vass, Instructor of Nutrition and Dietetic Programs. Although I wasn’t one of their students, they always had a kind word of encouragement for me.”

Williams will be working at CaroMont Podiatry. “I hope to have a long and happy career with CaroMont and may possibly continue my education later, but I look forward to working as a CMA (AAMA),” she said.

In addition to the AAS graduates, 14 Medical Assisting students who completed the first diploma program were also honored at the ceremony. They will receive their diploma degrees in October 2020. The diploma students are:

  • Skylar B. Blalock and Crystal L. Bridges from Dallas.
  • Alicia B. Conard from Shelby.
  • Lisa S. Crawford, Morgan T. Holt, Latasha Moore Smith, and Janith L. Scott from Gastonia.
  • Deepti Devabhaktuni from Belmont.
  • Mary S. Johnson from Alexis.
  • Savannah D. Pitchford from Charlotte.
  • Addison E. Pruitt from Cherryville.
  • Keisa Washington-Cruz from Iron Station.
  • Brandy M. Weaver from Lincolnton.
  • Cierra J. Wilson from Bessemer City.

The diploma MA students will begin taking the AAMA certification exam in October, and several have received job offers. Five of the 14 students finished with a 4.0 GPA. In recognition of their hard work, the Gaston County Chapter of Medical Assistants will pay the exam fees for Janith Scott, Lisa Crawford, Deepti Devabhaktuni, and Keisha Washington-Cruz, who is the recipient of the chapter’s $500 scholarship for 2020. Mary Johnson’s exam fee will be paid by an outside source.

The Gaston College Medical Assistant program has been ranked by as the third best in North Carolina. Rankings are based on the site’s Editorial Staff ratings, graduation rate, average net price, admission rate, full-time retention rate, and total number of students enrolled in the program.

The Gaston College MA program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs. Graduates of the program qualify to take the AAMA certification examination to become a Certified Medical Assistant. For more information on the Gaston College Medical Assisting program, call 704-922-2274.

woman holding flowers posing with her son

Takeia Reid receives a congratulatory hug and flowers from her son Zamoriyan following the Medical Assisting pinning ceremony.

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