GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Hundreds of new first responders in Gaston County are graduating from training and joining the front lines to battle coronavirus amid the pandemic.
Andrew Molby is one of those new first responders, and he's sharing his story of overcoming adversity to help others.
"I kind of wanted to always be a first responder from a very young age," Molby said.
But before he could be in the driver's seat of an ambulance, he had to navigate a road filled with learning challenges. In first grade, experts diagnosed him with dyslexia and dysgraphia, which affect his spelling, reading and writing, all critical skills if he ever wanted to become a first responder.
"It really takes a lot of hard work and perseverance, is really what it took," Molby said. "You have to find something that motivates you."
He found that motivation high school, when he joined the county's EMS explorer program. He then enrolled in Gaston College's emergency medical sciences program, where instructors Carrie Gillilan and Mark Houser took him under their wings to help him fly above his learning challenges.
"He worked really well with people and asked so many questions that would actually blow our minds sometimes," said Houser, the lead instructor at Gaston College.
"He's going to do great things in health care, he's going to save a lot of lives," said. Carrie Gillilan, clinical coordinator at the EMS program.
Molby says he's ready for the challenge.
"Being there for somebody on their worst day, it's a privilege really," Molby said. "It's something I don't take lightly."
His passion hasn't changed through the pandemic. What has changed are additional precautions he must take to protect himself during the virus, but more importantly, finding out this will be his first shift as a state certified paramedic.
"I feel great," Molby said. "I worked two years for that, so it's something I'm really happy to get."
He plans to get a bachelor's degree in emergency medical science. He's weighing a future medical role in the military or a higher education level in medicine.