As someone “who always wanted to take care of people,” Michell Hacker’s dream job was being a mom. She lived that dream with zeal, even while recognizing the likelihood of an expiration date.

Instead of preparing for the looming void, Michell began pursuing a second dream job – one that required college credentials -- while also planning for the day her own son and daughter would go off to college.

Michell earned a radiology technology degree at Yavapai College, graduating in 2019 at age 47, and is a healthcare hero with the radiology department at Yavapai Regional Medical Center.

“It’s never too late and you’re never too old,” said Michell, a first-generation college student who shared her mid-life accomplishment in a comment on a YC social media post. “The window is open for everyone. There’s no time limit on what you want to do.”

Like many moms who devote themselves to their families, Michell started wondering about the future when her son and daughter were adolescents. The consummate nurturer who had always worked odd jobs from home or helped in the family business – dreaded the thought of not being useful or needed. “I have to find something for myself,” she recalled thinking.

Sensing healthcare was her second calling, Michell began exploring careers in the field. She ended her search abruptly after “shadowing” rad techs, as they’re called in the industry, at YRMC one afternoon. “I spent four hours there and I didn’t want to go home,” she said of the catalyst for her college journey.

Michell enrolled at YC while her kids were still at home. “I knew if I didn’t do it then, I wouldn’t have anyone to help me with math,” she joked, noting, “I hadn’t gone to school for 27 years.” With some help from her live-in tutors, she proudly earned Bs in math and got the rest of her prerequisites out of the way while, motivated to experience working in a hospital environment, she also worked part time in admissions at YRMC. She was accepted into the YC Rad Tech program on her second try.

Full-time college and part-time work proved difficult for Michell, her husband, Craig, and their children Cody and Sarah. Even though my husband was “my number one supporter, it was a lot,” Michell said. “I had a whole different life than everyone was used to. It was hard.”

Michell’s perseverance and her family’s encouragement resulted in stellar grades and a radiology job offer at YRMC before she graduated. Today, she raves about her second career and what it has meant financially and personally.

Monetarily, Michell said she has been able to save like never before and help Cody, a recent Colorado State University engineering graduate, and Sarah, now a Northern Arizona University student, with college costs. “Going to college makes that difference,” she said.

Personally, Michell said, “If I wouldn’t have found something for myself, I would not be the person I am now. I have my own career now. It’s been life changing being able to be out there helping people.”

Looking back, Michell wouldn’t change the order in which she achieved her dreams. “I have been able to have the best of both worlds,” she said.