Hats off to the Graduates! Your Students’ Stories, Continued

As the summer comes to a close, we’d like to give one more shout-out to some of your recent graduates. Highlighted below are a few of the stories we received, as told by the graduates themselves. These students have overcome fear and personal challenges while rising to the top. We applaud their dedication and are honored to welcome them into the profession.

Do you have student stories to share? Send a note or photos to the ARC/STSA Director of Education Services, Christy Baily-Byers, at christy.bailybyers@arcstsa.org. Don’t forget to visit the ARC/STSA Facebook page to see the album of graduate pictures sent in from across the country!

Michelle Mastandrea, CST, graduate of Glendale Career College
Glendale Career College paved a path for success as I embarked on my second career, this time as a surgical technologist. In early 2013, I started thinking about making a career change. It was a scary idea, especially at age 38. I had been in a thankless retail management job for more than 10 years. I worked terrible hours and spent a lot of time away from my family.

After the birth of my first child, I didn’t want to re-enter that field again. I needed a change and the medical field had always appealed to me. My brother, who is a medical representative for a prominent medical supply company, suggested looking into surgical technology.

I researched jobs and schools offering this type of education, with a workable schedule that would allow me to go to school, work as needed and have time to study and spend time with my family. After this search, I ultimately chose to attend Glendale Career College.

Going back to school was fun and exciting. The classes were structured, challenging, and informative. After the didactic and basic laboratory portions of the program, I began hands-on learning in mock labs, practicing the skills on a realistic operating room setting. This extensive hands-on training prepared me to move to the next phase of the program: clinical rotation in the hospital setting.

I can’t say enough about the wonderful instructors and training I received at Glendale Career College. The faculty is experienced in the field of surgical technology and brings their knowledge to the classroom and laboratory setting. I was able to practice the skills needed to enter this profession and successfully passed the NBSTSA Certification, which allowed me to graduate as a Certified Surgical Technologist.

The college’s Career Services Department prepared me to enter the workforce with mock interviews, resume writing and application practice. All of this led to a job offer at LAC+USC Medical Center, where I currently work. I love my job. Each day is challenging and exciting, with exposure to a variety of surgical cases. I learn something new every day and this teaching facility gives me the opportunity for continued growth. I enjoyed my time as a student at Glendale Career College and am proud to have taken the leap of faith by starting a new career.

Ashley Cannon, graduate of Madisonville Community College
After graduation, I plan on going straight to work. I have been offered a job at Baptist Health as soon as I pass the boards. 

Being part of the surgical technology program at Madisonville Community College helped me not only know the material, but also what the job will truly be like. The clinical part of the program is very helpful. There is a lot to learn in a short period of time, but it can be done. I don’t think anyone is 100 percent ready to do the job on our own after school is over, but the program certainly gives us a good foundation. 

Coming into the program at Madisonville, I decided to not work in order to focus on school. I am engaged and have two children at home, so we thought it was best for me to be a stay-at-home mom and focus on school. On top of the everyday struggles of being a mom, this year brought on many challenges for myself and my family. I faced a number of personal and family health challenges. Trying to stay focused and stay in school was difficult, but I finished my clinicals in time and am thankful I never missed a test. If it wasn’t for support from my family, classmates and instructors, I’m not sure how I would have made it this far. I am beyond blessed to say I stayed on task, kept a 4.0 GPA and graduated. No matter what life throws at you, you have to stay positive and keep working toward your goals. Good things in life aren’t easy, and this hasn’t been easy at all, but it is definitely worth it in the end. 

If I could give any advice to other students, it would be to take it seriously from the beginning. Take time every night to study. I would also advise students to really listen to the preceptors. Sometimes the preceptors may seem intimidating, but they are there to help you. Be hands on in the operating room. If you do it for yourself, it really helps your learning experience. At the end of the day, just breathe, relax, and enjoy your job. 

Christina Stewart, graduate of Madisonville Community College
Since starting the surgical technology program, I have learned there is so much more to being a surgical technologist than just passing instruments to the doctor. I have also learned you have to be willing to do the work to learn the material. I went back to school late and, since I am a little older, learning wasn’t as easy. It took more work for me to pick up on the material. Raising three children as a single mom while being in the program full-time has been a challenge, but well worth my efforts: I have graduated with an Associate in Applied Science and two possible job offers. Along the way, I’ve made many friends and have enjoyed the program. My advice for upcoming students is to never give up, because it will be worth it in the end!


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