Ana Lopez dedicated 20 years of her career in service to those in need. She worked as a substance abuse counselor for a Chicago non-profit organization after starting out as an office specialist.

But when her agency announced a round of layoffs, Ana decided to switch careers and enroll at National Latino Education Institute (NLEI) to become a medical assistant. “I might as well do it all the way,” Ana said about her decision to return to school.

Back in the early 1990s, Ana took a course in office technology at what was then Spanish Coalition for Jobs (now known as NLEI). She returned to NLEI and chose the Medical Assistant course in part because her job as a counselor had taken her to several hospitals and clinical settings, which now seem familiar to her.

As if the challenge of switching careers wasn’t daunting enough, Ana has three sons and three daughters, ages 2 to 18. She delivered the keynote speech at her NLEI graduation ceremony and also spoke about her experience with NLEI at the agency’s Annual Dinner and Auction in 2012.

“It’s been a blessing for me all the way around,” Ana said about NLEI’s role in preparing her for two careers. She currently works as a medical assistant at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System in Chicago.