Amber Cooper (3rd Quarter, 2006)

3rd Quarter, 2006
Vo-tech Scholarship Winner
Amber Cooper

Amber is an honor student at San Diego Mesa College.

A Portion of Amber’s Winning Essay:

Amber Cooper
Amber Cooper

StraightForward Media’s Vocational-Technical School Scholarship would help me meet my educational and professional goals by allowing me to focus more of my time on my studies in the field of Radiology, so that I can achieve a complete understanding of the field, not to mention the physics, patient care and history that goes along with it, rather than burning the candle at both ends trying to make ends meet to pay for tuition, books, supplies, etc on top of the day-to-day expenditures of being a single parent of three.

I am entering my second year of the program and find it very hard to keep my head afloat when it comes to making ends meet. In fact, I have maxed out both of my credit cards between school items like uniforms, proper shoes, transportation costs, school clothes & supplies for my kids, et cetera. Any assistance I can ascertain now will be paid back to my community in the form of my knowledge and diligence in the field once my studies and licensure have been achieved. The short answer is to say that as a divorced parent who is trying to raise three children on my own, it is hard to make ends meet, but truly, the answer goes much deeper than getting off public assistance.

To fully comprehend why I want this so much, one has to understand how I got to this point in my life. Twenty years ago when I graduated high school, I thought I had all the time in the world to figure out what I would do with my life. Therefore, although I went to community college in the East County portion of San Diego, I only stuck with it a little over a year before I got married and got a full time job at a local bank. I thought my life was set; I had a husband and a career. I thought, “Who needs college?” at that point so I finished out the fall semester and did not look back.

I had a solid career in banking for a long while, but after 9 years working my way up in the ranks word came in that Mr. Sefton would be selling San Diego Trust and Savings Bank to First American Bank. I continued working at the Rancho Penasquitos Branch even after the acquisition. Nevertheless, a year later we got word that First American was being bought out by Wells Fargo and, so this time after much discussions with my husband, I took the severance package, and we moved to the state of Tennessee to make a fresh start in both our personal and professional lives.

Once in Tennessee, I tried to maintain my career in banking but I quickly realized that banking was becoming more about selling products than it was the customer service. Therefore, after having my second child I quit the bank and became a stay-at-home mom. After about 3 months, I re-entered the work force holding jobs ranging from deli clerk to eventually a store manager of a regional restaurant chain.

In 2001, after 14 years of marriage, my husband and I parted ways. At this point, I was only working nights and weekends as a delivery driver to supplement his income. After he moved out it became extremely hard to pay the bills on only this income, so I began working for a temporary agency. I took just about every assignment they offered me, and my persistence paid off when my representative at the agency called one day saying she had a clerical job working in the imaging department at the local hospital.

Thirty days later the job became permanent and they asked me to go to the MRI department as a scheduler. The radiologic technologist decided he wanted more of a tech’s assistant than a “paper pusher”. At his urging, the hospital sent me to school to get my license as a Certified Nursing Assistant so that I legally could have more hands-on patient care. I worked in that capacity for 6 months and loved the patient interaction. In 2002 when the hospital needed a file clerk for its new Cardiovascular Lab, instead of hiring someone new, they transferred me into the position.

Once I was there, I enjoyed the people and the pay, but I missed the hands-on patient care that I had in MRI. As a result, I made the decision to go back to school and get my degree in Radiologic Technology. I could have taken the courses in Nashville, but I knew I could not do so and properly raise my children. As a result, I researched colleges in the San Diego area and arranged with my folks to move back to San Diego.

Therefore to answer your question, I guess one might say I ‘fell into healthcare”. However, once I realized how rewarding it was I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life. More importantly, I have felt the pride of knowing what I do makes a difference in someone else’s life, and I love that feeling.

As for what contributions I will make to the medical world, honestly, I can’t say I will do anything noteworthy per say. However, I plan on getting my Associates degree and hopefully settle in at the Children’s Hospital here in San Diego with aspirations of moving out to Memphis in a few years to work at St Jude’s, especially if I continue my education and venture into radiation therapy.

Copyright 2007, All rights reserved.

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