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From Haiti to Histology: My Journey to the HT

By: Alexandra Bocicault Perez, HT

First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Alexandra Bocicault Perez. I'm from Haiti, a beautiful island with diverse cultures. Growing up there was very difficult. As Haiti is a 3rd world country, my childhood was different and unique. However, I couldn't tell until I came to paradise, the country of opportunity.


Growing up in Haiti was very challenging. We had to do daily chores between siblings and the age didn’t matter. My favorite one was getting water for the whole household; however, I had to carry it over my head in a big container with a (twokett) a kind of cushion to avoid friction between the container and my head, from a few miles to the house. I had to go a few times daily. Another cool thing was going to the river with my mom to wash our dirty clothes every Saturday (girls only used to go because boys were not allowed to wash clothes nor cook). I had a happy childhood even though it was difficult. My mom worked really hard to send me to school and graduating high school was the best thing in my life at the time. I wanted to go to college and study nursing but my mother didn’t have money to send me, so my stepfather who was a nurse helper started teaching me how to take care of a patient. I had fun doing it.


Years later, I heard from my dad, who was living in CT. He decided to bring me to the US. I came to the States when I was 23 years old without knowing any English, which is by the way my 4th language. I speak Creole, French, Spanish, and English. Leaving my country was very sad, but exciting at the same time, to finally have a chance to explore a different place. I got really excited the first day I got here. Everything amazed me, the lights on the bridges, the constructions of the road over road, the food, the people, the buildings, and many more.


Living in the states at the beginning was very different for me. I had to make new friends, live with new family members. Then I got used to it. I did my best and I loved it here.


I started working as a server and going to school at the same time. I took ESL in college, then all the prerequisites for nursing. A semester later, it didn’t work out, so I left nursing school, but continued with school where I graduated with an Associate's Degree of Applied Sciences in 2009.


Then I got married and moved to New York. I have 2 beautiful daughters, Jehann is 10 and Sybil is 8 years old. I tried to go back to nursing school while in New York and was placed on a waiting list. Then we moved to San Antonio, TX a few years later. Same thing here, I was placed on a waiting list for the nursing program. Then I had to add new courses to my list of prerequisites which I did, but still was waiting to be called.

My husband tried to tell me to do something else while waiting but I was like, “I would love to fulfill my dream which is to take care of people.”


Then a friend of mine from CT told me that she just graduated from a histology program and I said “Study of tissue? What kind of field is that? Oh, I never heard of it.” I knew the meaning because I took medical terminology for nursing. Then I told her ok, I will look for it. So I started asking around here but no one knew about histology. So I gave up looking.


A few months later another friend of mine from Florida told me that she just enrolled into a histology program and I said "Ok, I will try to look into it". Again, I searched for it, but it sent me outside of TX; I got discouraged.


As school was about to start, I decided to go talk to an advisor. While I was waiting in the office, I started looking at different programs; I picked up one that said Histology Program, and I said “I finally found you!”. I asked the secretary about it and she told me if I was interested, I could start on Monday. I couldn’t believe it. So, I went and talked to the director and I was qualified to start the program right away.

I did the program in 3 semesters, then I was hired before graduation by one of the hospitals I went for clinical. I was super excited with my new job and I fell in love with that new career field. Somehow I felt like I did fulfill my dream, even though I don’t see the patients, but I still take care of their specimens.


After graduation, I started studying to take my HT, then I got undecided, saying that I was not ready yet. A year passed, 2, and then 3 years, I still didn’t take it. Then I went to a TSH Convention, I won an award of $350 to pay for my test and I deposited it to my bank account saying, “Let me save it until I decided to take it.”


Meanwhile, two of my friends took it and didn't pass it, so I said to myself that I wasn’t ready either.


Another year passed and one of my best friends from work told me that she could help me sign up whenever I was ready. An instructor from my job offered his help also. He gave me all the materials to study and I did study a little but I never signed up for it. He told me that I had to sign up first then the motivation to study will come after. Another best friend volunteered to study with me to give me motivation and I told her “Yes, let’s do it”, but nothing happened.


A lot of my friends, coworkers, instructors, my lead, my supervisor have tried to push me, but I was always scared to fail the test.


A few months before my 5-year anniversary in Histology, that same friend asked me if I still had the money for the test and I said “Yeah, why? Why did you ask?” Then she said, “Can you bring me your debit card?”. As I went to my locker room to get the card, she had already signed me up for the HT. Then she told me, “Start studying because you won’t have a long time before they give you a date for the test”. OMG, she did what I had feared to do in 5 years, and only took her a few minutes. I didn’t know what to say to her and she told me, “Don’t thank me for it, just pass the test”. And I said “Ok, I will try”.

Then she passed me her notes and I got more materials from the instructor. I had exactly 3 months to study and I did it chapter to chapter. I reviewed every single day. I stayed up late to study. I tried my best. I took the practice tests over and over. I made my own flash cards. My coworkers, my friends, even my girls, had helped me by asking questions from my flash cards.


The day of the test, I was scared but I was finally ready to be done with it. I took it and passed it the first time. I was happy, excited, and especially grateful to all of these people who tried so hard to help me and I didn’t fail them.


Somehow everyone around me had put in something in order for me to pass my HT. I’m so happy and blessed to have such great friends, coworkers, and family. Now that I know how hard it is sometimes to make a decision, I would love to help others, I would love to give students motivation and help them with their HT.

ABOUT NSH

The National Society for Histotechnology is a professional member organization for individuals actively involved in the histology profession. NSH has over 3,000 members worldwide, and is the leading provider of histology focused continuing education.  

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