Student Spotlight: Trista Durant

Mother of eight earning Medical Administrative Specialist degree

Trista Durant, 41, is pursuing her Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) and diploma in the Medical Administrative Specialist program at Dakota County Technical College. Trista is taking care of a very large family while earning her college degree—she has eight total children, four of her own and four by marriage. She is on schedule to graduate from DCTC in May 2021.

“After I graduate, I plan on finding a job that is in my career of study,” Trista said. “I would like to work at a clinic as a receptionist, or even some type of hospital. It all depends as to what positions are hiring three years from now. I have to wait until all the kids are in school.”

Trista’s academic performance made her eligible to receive an invitation to join Phi Theta Kappa, the official honor society for community colleges by the American Association of Community Colleges. She doesn’t have plans to transfer to a four-year college or university after graduating, but is open to the idea in the near future.

Trista is such a strong, hardworking and determined woman. It has been so great to be able to know and teach her for these last few years. It’s incredible to see how she’s been able to balance her school and home life and continue to work toward her goal of an associate degree.
Trista is always cheering on other students and supporting them while diligently working to complete her own schoolwork. Her kindness and compassion are critical to her chosen role and industry. I am so excited to see what success in her career awaits for her!
Amy Evanson
Administrative Support Program Faculty
Dakota County Technical College

More about Trista…

Originally from Cottage Grove, Minnesota, Trista graduated from Menomonie Senior High School, Class of 1998. She has been married six years, and her husband, Keith, works for Twin Cities Towing & Recovery. Trista and Keith have a total of eight children together, six girls and two boys (four are her stepkids): Alexis, 21, Lucas, 18, Lacie, 16, Jazmyne, 15, Kelsie, 13, Sarynitee Lynn, 5, Keith III, 4, and Dalilah, 3.

The family has two cats, Dopey and Oliver, both 8-month-old orange tabbies, and two dogs, Cloverleaf and Harley, both 4-month-old Chihuahuas, along with two fish tanks, saltwater and freshwater.

In her free time, Trista enjoys bowling, dancing, soccer, band, coloring and riding motorcycles with her husband. Trista and her family reside in Cottage Grove.

Trista family gallery

More about the Medical Administrative Specialist program at DCTC…

This Medical Administrative Specialist program prepares you to work in a variety of positions in the medical field. Specialized medical courses include:

  • Medical Documentation
  • Medical Terminology
  • Anatomy and Physiology

You will also take a variety of general administrative courses covering:

  • Software applications
  • Keyboarding
  • Communications

This program teaches you the expertise you need for the following administrative tasks:

  • Creating and editing documents, spreadsheets and databases
  • Electronic presentations
  • Internet navigation research

Medical administrative specialists may be called on to communicate, organize, coordinate and integrate data. They also manage doctor schedules, schedule patient appointments, maintain patient files and transcribe patient reports.

This is the ideal major for people in the workforce looking for a challenge or ways to advance their careers. The Medical Administrative Specialist program gives you the opportunity to obtain Microsoft Office Specialist Certification for the required certification classes.

Work environment

Medical administrative specialists are employed at:

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Physician offices
  • Dental offices
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Insurance companies
  • Grantmaking and giving services
  • Religious organizations
  • Offices of other health practitioners

Trista Durant Q & A

Why did you choose the Medical Administrative Specialist program at DCTC?

I chose this program because I actually already have an Administrative Assistant A.A.S. degree. So I thought what better than to have the medical portion of the occupational field to give myself more job options beyond regular office work. It’s better to have more than one thing to be able to fall back on.

Why are you pursuing the healthcare field as your career path?

All four of my kids were premature so after learning a lot of different words and seeing everything that the receptionists go through on a daily basis, I figured I would be good at that kind of job. I am organized, and I love meeting new people.

What do you find most interesting about the medical administrative specialist occupation?

Being able to work with a bunch of different people and getting to know the patients and their families.

What is your favorite DCTC course so far and why?

My favorite courses were actually Medical Terminology and Keyboarding. Learning a lot of different terms and being able to see how many words you can type a minute are really interesting to me.

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What advice would you give students thinking about majoring in Medical Administrative Specialist?

Just because some of the courses may be hard, don’t give up because there is a lot of good jobs out there that would be happy to hire you and give you a chance.

What person(s) has influenced you the most in life and why?

My mom and my dad. My mom because it doesn’t matter how life gets thrown at you, only you can make your outcome be what it’s going to be. My dad because he teaches you to be respectful to everyone and to just like life one day at a time.

Both of them because they showed me what the most important thing about life is your family and what they mean to you.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

In 20 years, I will be 61—so hopefully a grandma with a steady job. I’ll be living in Florida with my husband, and just being the best person that I can be.

One word that best describes your experience at DCTC:


Trista Durant 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Football
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Australia
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Actually, marring my best friend after not talking for 20 years.
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Buy a house 2) Donate some of the money 3) Take a nice family vacation
  5. Favorite TV show you’re watching now: Friends
  6. Best movie you’ve seen lately: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: I already did that and that was making amends with my mom before she passed away in July of last year.
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Peacock
  9. Dream occupation: Working on a beach in Costa Rica
  10. Person(s) you would most l would like to meet: Keith Urban, Blake Shelton or Luke Bryan
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Being able to cross stitch, or be able to sew
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Poverty and just people not being able to afford food or shelter
Learn more about the Medical Administrative Specialist program at DCTC by contacting:

Amy Evanson
Administrative Support Program Faculty

Karianne Loula
Academic & Financial Aid Advisor