Scholarship Sows Seeds of Endowment

Robin Anderson, contract writer
Aug. 12, 2014

Marie Racine“It wasn’t so much the money as the validation that I got from Dr. Joe Foley having so much interest and support in seeing me reach my goals,” says Marie L.A. Racine, M.S., R.T.(R)(T).

Marie described a surprise scholarship award ceremony in her second year of training, “There was this elderly gentleman, an attorney and trustee for the scholarship fund, who was so hard of hearing that his secretary had to translate for him and help him understand why he was handing me the check.”

That scene from 1961 was still vivid in Marie’s mind when she called the ASRT Foundation to set up an endowment inspired by a lifetime of success in radiation therapy. Her experience spans from her initial education in a Vermont hospital, training as a radiography instructor for the U.S. Army, through more than three decades as an instructor and program director in Texas.

It all started with a high school career brochure and that surprise scholarship, which helped plant the seeds of a long career. Those seeds sprouted into a radiologic sciences career and a flourishing desire to aid patients, others in the discipline and the profession overall.

Marie’s journey began in high school when she dreamed of becoming either a social worker or photographer. “When I first went to the x-ray school, which was a certificate program at DeGoesbriand Memorial Hospital in Burlington, my goals were to go to college and become either a social worker or something else in that vein,” Marie says. “At the time I didn’t have the finances, so I also looked into something in the health careers that would offer me an opportunity to work with people and use photography.” Marie had never heard of the radiologic sciences before picking up a promotional brochure in the high school principal’s office.      

Marie was drawn to radiation therapy at De Goesbriand. “When it wasn’t too busy in the afternoons, I would find myself gravitating to that department and spending time with Helen Isham, R.N., R.T.(T).

After graduating, then working in another hospital radiology department for a few years, Marie enlisted in the Army during Viet Nam. Within two years of serving, she took on the role of instructor after the Army trained her in x-ray instruction at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. “I found out once I got there that I was only the second woman ever to be given the opportunity to be an instructor in that program,” says Marie. That experience shaped the future trajectory of her career in ways she never could have imagined starting out in Vermont.

She moved from San Antonio to Fort Worth in 1967 after leaving the Army and transitioned smoothly into civilian life. “The Army wanted me to stay on after my three year term, but I decided it was time to spread my wings in other ways.” An opening at the Moncrief Radiation Center (MRC) drew her in and helped her grow as a medical director and educator during the 23 years she committed to that organization.

It became a true calling as the radiation therapist advanced to chief therapist and dosimetrist before helping to found the MRC School of Radiation Therapy Technology in 1971.

Marie also accepted an appointment as program director the same year — graduating from her own program in 1972, then earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree by the mid-1990s. “What really got me hooked is working with students and helping them to see how they can make a difference in a patient’s life.”

In 1991, she became a clinical instructor for Tarrant County Community College (TCCC), then served as a quality manager/educator for a major cancer center in Dallas and as a program director for the Galveston College (GC) Radiation Therapy Program. Through it all, Marie’s focus has remained on the “high tech, high touch “of radiation therapy and the dosimetry that patients depend on.

“I’ve personally seen a lot of my students struggling financially as they’re trying to reach their goals. For those students who have received scholarships the joy and pride expressed on their faces is priceless. That is why I’d like to start this scholarship and maybe help some other folks who are in similar situations.”