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ACC Alumni Spotlight: Bernadette Riggs


Bernadette Riggs doesn't want to be like everybody else. When things got tough in the surgical technology program at American Career College-Los Angeles, she would remind herself of that fact.

"I would always just think about the expression 'If it was easy, everyone could do it,'" Riggs said. "It gave me motivation like, 'OK, I can do this, because if I can't then I'll just be like everyone else.'"

After graduating high school, Riggs waited about a year before realizing she needed to do something with her life. Riggs said she contemplated joining the military, but decided to pursue a career in healthcare instead. Now that she's completed the associate degree program, Riggs said she's prepared to work in the surgical field and eager to walk across the stage at ACC's commencement ceremony in April.

"I'm certified already. Everything is done," Riggs said. "I'm just waiting for April 21 and the graduation ceremony."


Where would you like to work?

I think it'd be cool to work at a plastic surgery center. Maybe start there. I really like spine and neurosurgery, so I might want to upgrade to a job like that. Maybe become a physician's assistant.

How did you first hear about surgical technology?

In high school we had colleges come recruit us and they had a surgical tech major. I looked into it and it seemed interesting so when I came here and saw the program, I knew what I wanted to do.

Why did you want to work in healthcare?

I really like healthcare. I like helping people and there's always a need for it. It's really a good place to be. It's a nice family to be in, the medical field.

What was the hardest part of the program?

Probably anatomy, just having to remember all the different parts of the body, what they do and everything.

Did you ever feel like quitting?

Some things were challenging and then some things were like, 'OK, I got this.' After we kept doing it over and over and going over, the repetition helped me to really understand it better, because the first time around I didn't. Then they came back and explained it again, and I got it.

What's the best part?

Helping people and really being a part of the surgery team. I really like being in that environment. We're all working together to help this person. They're just, you know, open, and then I'm actually able to be inside of this person, doing work. It's interesting and it is so cool to me because the things that I did and saw at my clinical sites, it was really fascinating. I was like 'Wow, this is unbelievable.'

Do you have any advice for incoming students?

If you really like something, then you should really do it. If you don't, it's not going to be worth it if you don't want to actually put the effort in. You have to really be dedicated and do the work and really want to do it, because it's not easy.

ACC cannot guarantee employment. Programs vary by campus. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student. For graduation rates, median debt of graduates completing this program and other important information, visit

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