Tough Start Launches Bright Career

Rachel Whatley, B.S.R.S., R.T.(R)
Aug. 18, 2016

Rachel_Whatley_450Receiving a 2016 Professional Advancement Scholarship from the ASRT Foundation helps ease the financial burden of earning a higher education, but it also sets an example for those around me. It shows my children that I expect no more of them than I do of myself, and it models the advantages of hard work and goal setting.

I have worked hard to reach this point in my life, and I want to serve as an inspiration to others so that they know they can push through and achieve their dreams. Unlike many of my colleagues, I did not graduate from high school. I dropped out when I was 17 years old and later earned my GED. I am the child of an addict and criminal, which dealt me a rough start in life. As a child, I spent time living in a battered women and children’s shelter in Austin, Texas. I was later placed in foster care with my aunt for a little more than a year, as my father was incarcerated and my mother was in an abusive relationship at the time. Instead of wasting energy being angry about the advantages I didn’t have growing up, I set long-term goals, made plans to achieve those goals and stuck to those plans.

When I graduated with my associate degree, I became the first member of my immediate family to graduate from college. I became a military wife when I married my husband and created a stable home life for my daughter, adopted son and two foster children while pursuing a bachelor’s degree. My dedication to achieving my goals is one of my biggest strengths. I am dedicated to maintaining and contributing to my family, my profession and my community. I put in the work, and I do not give up. While I may have to change my route from time to time, I still work toward my goals.

With the help of a scholarship that donors made possible through the Foundation, I’m working toward another goal — a master’s degree in radiologic sciences education. During my undergraduate work, I developed a passion for research and writing. I even had the opportunity to work on a research project with my mentor, James Johnston, Ph.D., R.T.(R)(CV), FASRT, that went to clinical trials April 21, 2016.

I plan to become an educator and invest more time conducting research. Earning this higher degree with the support of Foundation donors will help me prepare to teach at the university level, putting me on the path to ultimately earn my doctorate. I promise that the support generous donors have given me will not be wasted. I intend to give back to the profession as much as I can.

Since the first day of radiography school, I have been a member of the ASRT and my state affiliate. I have even begun volunteering with my affiliate, serving first as the secretary-treasurer for the New Mexico Society of Radiologic Technologists and now as the vice president of the society. This involvement in my professional societies has given me the opportunity to connect with a variety of talented technologists, and I consider these individuals to be an invaluable professional resource.

Research and volunteering keep me engaged in our profession. I enjoy continuing to do research with my mentor and I have learned a lot serving on the NMSRT board. The support of my mentors and the Foundation donors is empowering me to become involved in the medical imaging and radiation therapy profession on a level that goes beyond what I’m doing now.

I want to thank every donor who supports the Foundation and makes these scholarships possible. I can promise you that your support has not been misplaced in me. I encourage everyone in the R.T. community to support the Foundation, just as I plan to support it in the future. Your gifts are making a difference in the lives of R.T.s and students, just like me, who are passionate about our profession and want to see it continue to grow. The continued support of our community is the key to creating a bright future for medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals and students everywhere.