On a sunny August morning in Boca Grande Laquanda Dixon took a short break to sit out by the fountain and answer a few questions about her work at the Boca Grande Health Clinic, her ties to the island, and even a debate about a “q.”
“Laquanda is spelled with a lowercase ‘Q,’ even though I did ask my mom about that. I always told her that she should have put that capital in there,” Laquanda laughed.
Her laugh is infectious and it’s evident, even with her winning smile hidden under her mask, that Laquanda is a people person.
“My favorite part of my job is the interaction with patients and getting to know people,” she said. “I’m a people person, and a lot of people say that I’m friendly. I just love getting to know people and knowing where they came from.”
A Florida native, Laquanda was born in Miami but moved to Arcadia when she was 5 years old.
“I was pretty much raised there for a majority of my life,” she said. “I love Arcadia, but I just think it needs more places and things to do for kids in order to keep them out of trouble. Arcadia has such a rich history, but it is more of a retirement place.”
For a few years Laquanda had been traveling back and forth between Arcadia and Port Charlotte.
“I went to school in Port Charlotte, which is how I ended up back here and, on the island, because I did my internship on Boca Grande. I really wanted to work here, and it gradually worked out in my favor. Today I’m settled in Port Charlotte with my children.”
For the past seven years Laquanda has been working as a certified medical assistant at the Boca Grande Health Clinic. She not only has her associate of arts degree in medical assisting, but she also is a graduate from the University of Phoenix with her associate of science degree in criminal justice.
Laquanda has fond memories of seeing the island for the first time.
“I remember the first day I saw it,” she said. “We were in radiology class and they brought us out here to see the radiology room at the clinic. I thought to myself, ‘This is the place where I’m going to be.’ I just knew it. And then Ms. Debbie called and hired me part-time, and I’ve been here ever since.”
Her love for Boca Grande, the people, and the health clinic hasn’t waned over the years.
“Oh yes, I just love it,” she enthused. “At first I was a little nervous, because I guess it was a new field for me, a new career and everything. I just wanted people to get used to me as a person. But as time went on everyone was so open and greeted me with open arms.”
It’s certainly been a successful relationship. Except for Ms. Debbie, Laquanda has been at the clinic for longer than anyone else.
“I know almost everybody on the island, which is great,” she said.
A mother of two children – 21-year-old Cameron and 9-year-old Syreniti – Laquanda also cares for her niece, Zyonna. Syreniti and Zyonna both attend The Island school, located right across the street from the clinic.
“I love The Island school,” Laquanda said. “It has truly been so much of a breakthrough for me when it comes to my child and my niece. They have been so kind and generous to me with my kids, giving them what they need educationally. The class sizes are small, and each child gets individual attention. Everyone there is wonderful, just wonderful. They keep you alerted on everything that is happening and make sure that they share their concerns and needs for your child. That place is amazing. It truly is a blessing.”
Laquanda is grateful to not only the teachers and staff at the Island school but is impressed with those who take the time to volunteer.
“The volunteers are beautiful. You know some of the volunteers are patients here, so I get to see them here and over there. How everyone works together to support the children at the school is extraordinary.”
After years of commuting from Arcadia and burning the candle at both ends, having her children at school across the street from her job is a godsend.
“I can see my children whenever I need to,” she said. “The commute for me from Port Charlotte is now pretty much 30 to 45 minutes, but it’s just a blessing to have your child right down the road. Now I don’t have to worry if something happens and if I need to be there for them. I’m here when they need me.”
Laquanda’s career at the health clinic has been a blessing and it’s evident that she is a patient-centered professional.
“I care about people. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t care,” she said. “I always want to treat the patients like I would want my family to be treated. There have been changes and you learn to adjust. It’s all been positive change and improvement, all to make the place better for the patients.”
In case you’re thinking Laquanda is all work and no play, you would be wrong. She’s a people person and loves spending time with her friends and family.
“I like to get together to laugh, dance and just have a good time,” she said.
Looking to the future, Laquanda plans to continue to work and enjoy her successful career at the clinic.
“I would like to get my certification as a registered nurse, but …”
Then Laquanda stopped herself and laughed her infectious laugh that the people in Boca Grande know so well. “I always say, ‘There are no buts!’ I always say that, but that’s my main goal, to become