Dreaming Big, Taking Action

Daniel Schwager, ASRT Foundation Marketing and Communications Associate
Jun. 30, 2016

ASRT Scanner June/ July 2016 issueEvery year, the ASRT Foundation and its donors provide educational scholarships for advanced and entry-level medical imaging and radiation therapy degrees and certifications. Thanks to an outpouring of individual and corporate donor support, a total of more than $235,000 in scholarships was awarded this year.

In April, 71 recipients were selected to receive scholarships ranging in value from $250 to $5,000. Only ASRT members are eligible and selections are based on an applicant’s commitment to and achievements in the profession, as well as his or her financial need.

“We’re thrilled to be able to provide this much support to individuals who will strengthen the profession and improve patient care with their education,” said Keith Greer, ASRT Foundation development manager. “This year, we offered nine scholarships that were made possible through member endowments. It’s the most we’ve ever presented.”

These scholarship recipients were highly motivated to further their education and take the next step in their careers, but could only do so with support from the Foundation and its donors. Here are stories from a few of the scholarship recipients.

Determined, Inspired and Grateful

Carolina Escobedo of Robinson, Illinois, received a Varian Radiation Therapy Advancement Scholarship of $5,000 made possible by a grant from Varian Medical Systems. Once Carolina completes her associate degree in radiography from Olney Central College, she will use her scholarship to pursue a bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

“Throughout my life, I have been surrounded by violence, drugs and alcohol,” Carolina said. “I witnessed firsthand the dramatic effects drug and alcohol abuse can have on a person and everyone surrounding him, as my father chose these things over our family. His addictions had him incarcerated several times, which left my mother — who did not finish high school — alone trying to support three children.”

To make ends meet, Carolina’s mother had to seize all the overtime hours she could, which left Carolina’s older brother to take on the role of parent, raising her and her younger sister.

“From the moment I was born, my older brother knew the lifestyle I was about to enter. He was determined to make sure I went down the right path; he put so much effort into motivating me to be successful,” Carolina said. “From teaching me how to ride a bike to helping me solve complex calculus equations, he has been my number one supporter. Even now, he continues to encourage me to challenge myself and is a huge inspiration to me.”

Carolina wants her story to motivate others, which is why she strives to be optimistic and to go the extra mile. She works part time at a local restaurant to put herself through school, and despite her full course load, she still finds time to tutor other students — something she does for free. She said she is driven by the circumstances of her upbringing to work hard and achieve her goals, and the scholarship will help make that possible.

“This scholarship is a blessing. I was not sure how I could afford to continue my education and take the next step toward my career goals,” Carolina said. “Your generosity has inspired me to keep going. I hope to one day give back to this amazing radiography community and be as generous to others as you have been to me.”

An Educator in the Making

Rachel Heldberg, A.S., R.T.(R)(MR), of Le Sueur, Minnesota, received a Professional Advancement Scholarship of $2,000. This award is available thanks to donations to the Foundation and a grant from HEALTHeCAREERS.

Rachel is earning a bachelor’s degree in diagnostic imaging at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is the lead magnetic resonance imaging technologist at the Mayo Clinic in Mankato, Minnesota, and a mother of two.

“I started working at the Mayo Clinic in Mankato right after I graduated with my associate degree when I was 20,” Rachel said. “Having worked in the profession for the past nine years, I see how fast it grows and changes. There are so many opportunities, especially in MR, and I want to learn everything I can about it. I don’t want to get left behind; I want to be a part of the future of this exciting field, and I think going back to school will help me learn new aspects of medical imaging that I can also bring back to my department. I want to be a part of keeping my hospital on the forefront of technology.”

She plans to continue down the lifelong learning path while doing as much as she can in the profession. “I am interested in becoming an educator one day, or working in MR research if possible, and that means I need advanced degrees,” Rachel said. “I don’t intend to stop with earning a bachelor’s degree.”

It is going to be stressful raising two kids with her husband while working full time and taking classes, Rachel said, but she is committed to taking the next step in her career.

“Returning to school will be weird at first. My daughter will begin preschool and my son will start second grade at the same time my classes begin,” she said. “But they are also my motivation for doing this. I want them to see that anything is possible with hard work and dedication and that they can achieve the same success I have.”

Without the scholarship, Rachel would not have enrolled in the program, she said. “My husband farms, so my paycheck is our main source of steady income. Without financial assistance, I would not have been able to pursue this degree. I would have put the needs of my children and family first and put off returning to school indefinitely.”

Birth of a Career

Chandrea Lopez-Shue, A.S., R.T.(R)(CT), of Craig, Colorado, received a Siemens Clinical Advancement Scholarship of $5,000, which was made possible by Siemens Healthcare USA. She is enrolled at Washburn University, pursuing a bachelor of health sciences degree with an emphasis in medical imaging.

Chandrea grew up in Craig, a small town in northwestern Colorado, and earned an associate degree at Casper College in Wyoming. Four years ago, she returned to Craig, where she works at a local hospital performing radiography and computed tomography examinations, and the scholarship will help her achieve her goal of becoming a sonographer.

“I was first inspired to go into diagnostic imaging seven years ago when I saw [the obstetric] ultrasound of my son,” Chandrea said. “The care I received from the sonographer and the images I saw were incredible. She seemed to love her job, and that’s what I wanted: a job I loved. I have her to thank for everything I have achieved in my career to this point.”

From that moment on, Chandrea knew she wanted to work in the medical imaging profession. She added that becoming a mother at a young age was one of the best things that ever happened to her, but it was also extremely difficult, both financially and emotionally.

“I want to be able to provide for my son by having the best career possible — a career that I will love for a lifetime — and medical imaging is it,” she said. “When things are hard, I look to my son for inspiration. I want to be somebody he can look up to and be a good role model throughout his life. I want him to see that by having goals and working hard, he can go far in life.”

After completing the program, ultrasound will be her top priority, Chandrea said, but she hopes to work in a facility that will allow her to work in radiography and CT as well.

“I want everyone involved in this scholarship program to know how grateful I am for this opportunity,” she said. “It takes a big heart to make the choice to give to those who are in need. One of my lifelong goals is to be able to give back in the same way by creating a scholarship of my own to give to someone who needs it.”

From Infantryman to Radiographer

Brandon Green, A.A.S., R.T.(R), of Humble, Texas, received a Professional Advancement Scholarship of $2,000, which is available because of donations to the Foundation and a grant from HEALTHeCAREERS. He is enrolled at the University of Texas at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in diagnostic imaging with an emphasis in CT.

Brandon became a radiographer after serving as an infantryman in the U.S. Army. He received a medical discharge after he and his squad were ambushed while on patrol in Iraq.

“I stepped on an improvised explosive device and was blown into the air,” he said. “While in the air, I was shot in my left leg by an AK-47.”

Brandon recovered from his injuries, but the attack left him with a traumatic brain injury. Even after it healed, he was unable to resume his military service. He received a medical discharge, which set him on his current path.

“I knew after I was discharged that I still wanted to help people, and medical imaging seemed like something I would enjoy,” he said.

Brandon’s wife, four-year-old son and 17-month-old daughter inspired him to pursue his education. “My kids motivate me. I want them to have everything I didn’t,” he said. “[And] my wife always pushes me to be the best version of myself. She holds me accountable and helps me correct my weaknesses, but she is also the one who points out my strengths and builds me up. She has been so supportive through all of this,” he added.

The program Brandon is entering doesn’t allow him much time to work, so the family budget will be tight over the coming year while he completes his education. “It’s hard not to feel guilty having her work full time while I’m not. The scholarship has relieved a lot of that stress. [It] will help me focus 100% on my education instead of worrying about money to pay for classes or books,” Brandon said. “[The donors] gave me the chance to show my kids that hard work and perseverance can translate to success."


This article was originally published in 
ASRT Scanner, Vol. 48, No. 5, Page 36.