Puyallup: News

Emerald Ridge grad inspired by own struggles to pursue career in health care field

When Jeanee Henson was 7, she was diagnosed with epilepsy and later Rasmussen Disease, a rare neurological disease. But she has worked to overcome her disability and recently completed the Health Unit Coordinator certification program at Clover Park Technical College.
When Jeanee Henson was 7, she was diagnosed with epilepsy and later Rasmussen Disease, a rare neurological disease. But she has worked to overcome her disability and recently completed the Health Unit Coordinator certification program at Clover Park Technical College. Courtesy

As Jeanee Henson woke up after brain surgery — unable to move in 2003 and then again in 2005 — the now 23-year-old had no choice but to push on and learn how to talk and use her left arm and leg again.

When Henson was 7, she was diagnosed with epilepsy and later Rasmussen Disease, a rare neurological disease causing frequent and severe seizures, with the loss of motor skills and speech as well as paralysis.

As she puts it, “it was a little hiccup.”

That hiccup is what inspired her to enroll into the Health Unit Coordinator certification program at Clover Park Technical College. The program teaches students how to transcribe physicians orders, schedule diagnostic studies and appointments, order and maintain supplies and maintain patient records.

“I had always admired the doctors and nurses when I was in the hospital,” said Henson, a 2010 graduate of Emerald Ridge High School. “They were always so nice and caring.”

Now that the Puyallup resident has been seizure free for the last 10 years, she hopes to provide that same level of caring when she graduates from CPTC next week.

“I didn’t want to do the woe-is-me thing,” she said, recalling the reason she enrolled into the program. “I just got back up and told myself that my disability doesn’t make me special.”

Henson’s goal of completing the program in six months was something she wasn’t sure she could accomplish.

“I had school and work in the same day,” she said. “It’s hard, but you just have to push through. I just have to think that there’s an end. (The program) is so fast-paced in charting, looking stuff up ... I thought it was too much. Now, I just keep telling myself I’m in control.”

Henson is a little over a week from completing her goal; her next goal is to find a job using her certificate.

“Anyone who has a disability can do it (get a job),” she said. “We can do more, and we understand more. Give us a chance ... I know I can do great.”

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