Jenifer Shortridge has come a long way. Just four years ago, this May 2011 graduate of our Medical Assisting program at Cleveland Campus had all but given up on living a “normal life.” The reason? Her all-consuming, debilitating daily struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) since she was a youngster.
Story Covered by Local FOX News Affiliate
Jenifer was profiled on the Cleveland FOX News affiliate (FOX-8) website. In explaining her OCD, she related that simple, routine things would take her hours to do. “I had to do it a certain number of times…and if I messed up on the number, I’d have to start over again. It would take me three hours just to lock a door,” she said.
Determined not to let OCD consume her life, Jenifer found an answer at Shands Hospital, in Florida, through a procedure called deep brain stimulation. Normally performed on people with Parkinson’s Disease, the surgery is considered experimental for anyone with OCD.
In 2007, Jenifer was only the 12th person in the world with OCD to have the surgery. Doctors implanted electrodes in her brain that are controlled by a pacemaker-like device under the skin in her chest. “It was like a miracle. I wasn’t 100% cured, but at least I felt that I could live a normal life,” she said.
A Glimmer of Hope, and Then Heartbreak
In the year following her surgery, Jenifer’s hopeful recovery had its share of setbacks. In one year, Jenifer lost her grandmother, who had raised her and to whom she was very close; she went through a divorce; and her best friend died in a car accident. “The doctors had told me to try to manage my stress levels, but that proved to be much more difficult than I thought because of the emotional challenges in my life at the time,” she said.
A New Start as a Student at Remington College in Cleveland
Since then, Jenifer, the young mother of eight-year-old Joseph, has made up for lost time. With support from her aunt and uncle, with whom she now lives, Jenifer enrolled in Remington College’s Medical Assisting program in 2010. She finished her program and graduated in May 2011 after completing her externship at the Physician’s Weight Loss Center in Cleveland. She was also a student commencement speaker for her graduating class.
Jenifer related her message to students: “I told them that, when you want something bad enough, don’t give up! So many times I wanted to quit, but I didn’t because of my friends and teachers here at Remington. Everyone was so supportive and encouraging, even instructors outside of my program. I thanked them all very much for their help, friendship, and support.”
Jenifer’s determination was evident to Externship Coordinator Brian Clark, who said, “Jenifer was an AWESOME student and always had a positive attitude. She would stop by the externship office every day to tell us about the material covered in class, areas that she was comfortable with, and things she wanted to work on.” Mr. Clark also noted how Jenifer would reach out to help others: “She would arrive for her classes about an hour early to help some of the other students with what I called a study group.”
One of Jenifer’s Medical Assisting instructors, Catherine Kocina, added, “Module after module, you could see Jen’s confidence growing. She worked hard and was motivated to get her work done correctly and on time. When she dealt with an especially difficult subject, you would always know when she understood just by the look on her face – she would be so excited. And once she understood the material, she would never hesitate to help another student who was struggling with the same problem. Jen’s nature was to be very nurturing.”
Jenifer is now working with our Cleveland Career Services team to secure employment in the medical assisting field. “I would love to do hospice work with children,” she noted.
We wish Jenifer the best of luck in her future endeavors, and we know that her amazing, resilient spirit and her genuine desire to help others will serve her well as she enters the field.