A Graduation Story

On Wednesday, May 10, 2017 more than 500 students were awarded degrees, diplomas or certificates at Cleveland Community College. Among them were three students who earned their Associate in Applied Science in Radiography.

Mary Cartmell, Avery Robinson and Emily Williams all finished the program feeling good about their future.

Avery Robinson, Emily Williams and Mary Cartmell each graduated from CCC with an Associate in Applied Science in Radiography degree.

Avery Robinson, Emily Williams and Mary Cartmell graduated on May 10, 2017 with Associate in Applied Science degrees in Radiography.

“There’s this great feeling of accomplishment,” said Robinson. “From day one until now, it’s a huge accomplishment, but we know the book and we know the hands-on side. This program has done a really good job of preparing us to take the registry exam and to go to work.”

Cartmell added, “Some schools worry about getting you through the program. Cleveland worries about getting you ready to work.”

Admission to the Radiography program at CCC is competitive, and the course work includes clinical rotations to area health care facilities, radiographic procedures, image processing, patient care and management, and more. Students must be dedicated and engaged in order to be successful in the program.

Therefore, part of the admissions process is participation in an “exposure day.” Students applying for the radiography program visit a clinical site to observe and engage with radiography technicians. Once students are accepted into the program, they participate in two more exposure sessions, one during a day shift and one at night. One experience is typically at an outpatient facility, while the other is in a hospital. These students get a taste of what it is like to work in the field before they ever attend a radiography class.

Williams said the exposure days helped her know she was in the right place. “Through the exposure days I found out that X-ray wasn’t what I thought it was, but I realized I still wanted to do it.”

The exposure days played a key role in Robinson’s decision to enroll too. “I attended UNCC for two years, studying engineering. I left in good standing and could go back if I wanted, but I realized engineering wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. After the third exposure day, I could see myself doing this.”

All three students credit the on-campus instructors and the clinical site instructors with their success. “The program is professionally challenging. Teachers here want you to succeed,” said Cartmell. “If you put in the effort, they will as well. They want you to succeed after you leave the program.”

Robinson added, “The clinical site instructors are a huge part of the success. They are there to help, not criticize. They make sure you keep up with technical skills.”

Williams points out that she looked at other schools before choosing CCC’s program. “The more information I found, the more I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I like that this program is more hands-on. I don’t think I would have been as successful at another school.”

As Robinson and Williams prepare to begin their careers right away, Cartmell plans to attend the Carolinas College of Health Sciences radiation therapy program in the fall. “Therapy was always the ultimate goal, and you must have X-ray technician training first,” she said. “I chose radiation therapy because of the patient experience. You see the same patients over and over.”

Cartmell said her grandfather went through radiation therapy and talked to her about his experience with the staff who cared for him. She said at that time he wasn’t aware of her interest in radiation therapy, but his experience reinforced her decision.

Regardless of the direction they plan to take, each of these graduates feels prepared and ready for the next phase of their lives. The program helped them grow in knowledge and job skills, but also as individuals. “I was scared to talk to patients when I first started,” said Robinson. “Now, I can do it easily, and changes like that carry over into the rest of my life.”

Cartmell and Williams agree their experiences throughout the program have given them more confidence in and out of the classroom. Williams said that the hands-on experience in the clinical rotations, learning the equipment and interacting with patients, took her from day one to being able to “run a room” and it makes her feel completely prepared. “We know everything now (about being an X-ray technician),” said Williams. “There’s nothing left to learn. I feel completely ready to graduate.”

Congratulations to all our 2017 graduates. We wish you continued success and happiness in your educational journeys, careers, and the adventures life brings.

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