When Lensa Moen arrived in the United States at 19, she came with a passion for learning but without much knowledge about her new country’s higher education system. She decided community college would be a smart first step and chose to attend Spokane Falls Community College.
“I found community college very friendly to people of different backgrounds,” she said. “I was also on financial aid, so it made a lot of sense to stretch out those dollars. What I enjoyed the most was the small class sizes and having that one-on-one relationship you could build with your instructor.”
After graduating from SFCC, Lensa decided to take another leap of faith and moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington, where she received a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience.
While at UW, Lensa joined Tau Sigma, an honors society specifically for transfer students. She found a supportive community of diverse students in Tau Sigma who were open about the challenges and benefits of furthering their education. Lensa would eventually become the President and Treasurer of the society and led various fundraising and volunteer activities with the group.
“It was really nice to come into the school and have a community of other students who had a little more life experience and were a little older,” she said.
With a bachelor’s degree under her belt, Lensa wasn’t even close to being done. She went on to study medical laboratory science and had a successful career as a scientist for the next ten years. Lensa specialized in conducting blood analysis and worked in several Spokane hospitals.
After nearly a decade, however, Lensa felt something was missing in her career.
“One thing I was missing was seeing and interacting with the patient,” Lensa said. “I’m very outgoing, so that’s why I’m back in school so I can work directly with my patients.”
And with that realization, back to school she went. Lensa recently completed her first year as a medical student at the Washington State University Elson S. Floyd School of Medicine.
“I apparently love school,” Lensa said with a laugh. “I’m here almost twenty years after being a community college student because helping to heal patients is my end goal.”
Lensa isn’t sure what type of doctor she’ll become, but right now, she’s just excited to continue learning and see where this new path in life will take her.
Lensa encourages students to start thinking about their plans in higher ed early. She highly recommends Running Start as an excellent option for high schoolers to jump-start their career.
After all, as Lensa’s story shows, it’s never too early or too late to pursue your passions.