February 27, 2020

Student Stories: Q&A with Chastiny Gladden

Mesa College student veteran and prospective Health Information Technology graduate shares her experiences in higher education and giving back to the veteran community.

By Office of Communications

sample image

Q: Where did you grow up? 

A: I grew up in the small farming town of Columbia, NC.


Q: What is your major/area of study?

A: I am studying Health Information Technology.


Q: Why did you choose to come to Mesa College?

A: I was checking the accreditations of the colleges for medical billing and coding certificates. Mesa was on my list and when I looked into their program I realized they offered a degree! I knew this was the college I had to attend. It was a great opportunity that I just could not pass on.


Q: How are you involved at Mesa? 

A: I am an active member and secretary of the Student Veterans Organization (SVO). Our club raises money to buy free snacks for the Veterans Success Center for students who are food insecure or who are just in the mood for a bit to eat. We also like to host events. Our last event was a BBQ at Crown Point.


Q: What value does your experience at Mesa bring to your life?

A: When I was a freshman in high school I was told by a counselor that college was not for me because of my dyslexia. So naturally, I was terrified of even trying to further my education. My first semester at Mesa was the first time I truly felt my academic potential shine and I knew that counselor was wrong.


Q: What made you want to go to college? What was the deciding factor?

A: I was leaving the Navy and I knew I needed to change my career. Once I read about medical billing and coding I knew college was a step I needed to take.


Q: What are your future plans?

A: My plans are to work for the government in the Health Information field. Hopefully, I will get a job in the VA one day. Even though I am not in the military anymore I still feel the need to serve and what better way to do that by helping our Veterans though working for the VA.


Q: One piece of advice you would give to other Mesa students?

A: Do not wait until the last minute to do homework. I promise you it's less stressful. Leave your phones in another room or bag while studying. Also, Hydrate.


Q: What was the hardest thing you had to overcome in your college career?

A: I have always struggled (and still do) when it came to reading textbooks and articles. I found that highlighting and reading out loud (to my cat Petey) helps me. I also use sticky notes to break the chapters into sections. Once I reach a sticky note I take a break, walk around, then start the next section.


Q: What do you see as the best part of Mesa? For what specific reason should someone go here?

A: Mesa has a great staff from counseling to teachers. I feel like they actually care about the students. No matter how small my question was the staff always found a way to help little old me.


Q: What is your favorite or funniest memory of Mesa?

A: I really enjoy listing to the Club reports from an unofficial gaming club. They were always talking about battling monsters and going on quests. You just never knew what they were up to next.


Q: Do you have any other thoughts or special mentions?

A: SVO is a club that I adore. When I first came to Mesa all I wanted to do was go to class and go home. No making friends. I didn't realize that I was actually really lonely. The club helped me realized that I didn't have to go through college and transition from military to civilian life alone. They're like my little second family.


Tags: Veterans Success Center, Veterans, Allied Health, Health Information Technology, Student Spotlight