10 Students and 1 Educator Receive Combined $6,000 in Funds

ARC/STSA is proud to announce recipients of the 2019 scholarship awards. This year, 10 students and one educator were awarded a total of $6,000 in combined scholarships. Hear from the recipients about their unique journeys, what excites them about entering the profession and what’s on their horizons.

“I started my journey in surgical technology almost two years ago. While it has been difficult, it has also been rewarding. My favorite part about this career so far is seeing patients leave the operating room in better condition than they came in, and knowing I played a large part in taking some — if not all — of their pain away. As far as my future goes, I plan on attending medical school. In the meantime, I will expose myself to as many specialties as possible, to enhance my knowledge and be the best surgical technologist I can be.” —Kelsey Chermer, Pittsburgh Technical College, PA  

“I have always been intrigued by the medical field, and since discovering the role of the surgical technologist, I have found without a doubt this role is for me. We get the opportunity to work alongside the surgeon, assisting the patient in a very real way by keeping their procedure as safe as possible. As a single mom to three, choosing to go back to school to pursue a new career was a leap of faith in many ways. Through the clinical experience, I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of specialties and I have been fascinated by each.” —Dawn Coad, Collin County Community College, TX

“Before discovering my passion for surgical technology, I was in the banking business for 15 years. Banking was just a job to me, never a career, and I longed to be part of the medical profession. It was a scary decision to embark on a new career path at my age, but I began my journey during the summer of 2016. I love being part of a team that improves the quality of life for each patient who is wheeled through the operating room doors. I am proud to be one of the few who can participate in surgery.” —Lorene Czajka, Praire State College, IL

“I am a single mom of four children, ranging in age from 18‐25. My lifelong dream has been to work in health care. Raising and supporting my family was always my number one priority. Now that all of my children are either in college or college graduates, I felt it was my time to follow my dream and go back to school. By becoming a certified surgical technologist, I am not only doing something I love — I’ve also been given the chance to help others.” — Ellen Duffy, Eastwick College, NJ

“My medical background began in the Army as a medic, where I worked at one of the Army’s largest medical centers, Brooke Army Medical Center, in the Department of Surgery and the emergency room. After moving to South Dakota with my children in 2014, I returned to school to pursue a full-time career as a surgical technologist. This summer, I will begin working at Black Hills Surgical Hospital. I realize the great benefit scholarships, like this award from the ARC/STSA, have had on my success. They have been invaluable to my completion of the program.” —Dani Hersrud, Western Dakota Technical Institute, SD

“I am finishing up my first round of clinical rotations at our regional hospital, which has exposed me to many different specialties, including trauma and plastics. One of my long-term goals is to secure a position within a plastics center. I have seen how creative and innovative the surgeons are in their approach and execution of their surgeries. Trauma continues to be one of my favorite specialties, and it will be interesting to see where I will end up — somewhere that will keep me engaged in both of those fields.” —Yaira Liedl, Paasco Hernando State College, FL

“I am currently serving my fifth year in the United States Army Reserves as a 68H, which is an optical laboratory specialist. My favorite memory while in the military was traveling to Guatemala on a humanitarian mission where we provided medical services to the local villages. I was in charge of the optometry tent where I gave basic eye exams prior to individuals seeing the optometrist. For most, affording glasses was nearly impossible, so when they put on a pair for the first time, they would burst into tears. Mothers were able to finally see their children’s facial features clearly for the first time, and children were able to see their school work. This humanitarian mission set the tone for my career choice. Helping others is extremely rewarding because their lifestyles change after getting the medical services they need. I believe that surgical technologists help provide patients with the best care possible, and I’m so happy that I can be an asset to patients’ health.” —Kourtney Reed, Carrington College Citrus Heights, CA

“Growing up, I was always fascinated with biology. I knew from a young age I was going to make my career in the sciences. The more time I spend in the operating room, the more I have found myself loving my career choice. I plan to build a solid foundation in surgical technology, then pursue my studies further, aiming to be a first assist or a physician’s assistant to a surgeon.” —Marisa Sherrett, Rockingham Community College, NC

“My interests are gaining scrub experience after I earn my certification, then my goal is to participate in a surgical mission trip. It’s my desire to help provide life-changing procedures to people who may have no hope of receiving medical care. I want to become part of a team that makes a huge positive impact in the lives of people.” —Jacqueline Sonntag, Tarrant County College, TX

“I am a first-year student in the Surgical Technology Program at Parkland College, with an anticipated graduation date of August 2020. My career choice was heavily influenced by family members and friends who are current or former health professionals. My goals include working as a traveling surgical technologist, becoming a certified surgical first assistant and fostering growth in the profession by encouraging others to pursue surgical technology as an exciting and rewarding career.” —Abby Turner, Parkland College, IL

“I am humbled and honored to receive the Chris Keegan Memorial Educator Scholarship and will use it to carry on Chris’ vision for the field and apply it toward my master’s degree program tuition. Earning my Master of Science in Healthcare Education will help shape me into a more well-rounded educator and leader in my profession. Enhancing my leadership skills will assist me both in and outside of the classroom as I continue to promote the field of surgical technology with my students, my colleagues and in the community. I enjoy sharing my experiences, knowledge and passion for the field of surgical technology with my students and thrive on watching them transition from student to surgical technologist professional right before my eyes. It is a feeling I just can’t describe.” —Krista Vylasek, CST, BS, AAS, Rasmussen College – Brooklyn Park, MN