Seventeen-year-old Amanda Campbell has a plan for her life, and ETMC Athens is helping her get there.

Campbell, who graduated from Athens High School on Friday, is the recipient of a $1,000 scholarship from the Athens hospital. She’ll use the funds to pay tuition and fees at Tyler Junior College, where she plans to earn her radiology technology license (called a “radtech” license by people in the know).

The license will be Campbell’s first step toward a bachelor’s degree and eventually a more specialized field.

“What I love about radiology,” said Campbell, “is that you have a patient come to your department, and you know nothing about that person except they’re ill. Then you take an image of their body, and it can tell you everything. It’s amazing.”

Not many 17-year-olds can speak passionately about radiology – or any medical field for that matter. Campbell’s ability to do so can be attributed to a special teacher – Jennifer Essary – and on-the-job training at ETMC Athens.

Her junior year, Campbell worked as a file clerk in the hospital’s radiology department. For a year she worked the evening shift five days a week.

Essary, a health technology teacher at AHS and herself a registered nurse, alerted Campbell to the opening at the hospital, and the teen landed the job in no time.

“I loved it,” said Campbell. “A lot of times in a work environment, you have the good and the bad. But here, it was just the good.

“The people I worked with pushed me and taught me. They didn’t have a problem if I picked up an X-ray and said, ‘What’s this?’ They’d show me. I learned so much.”

Campbell’s position in the department was made obsolete last year by the introduction of revolutionary technology known as PACS – or Picture Archive Computer System – which stores images digitally.

“It was so sad when I was replaced by a computer,” laughed Campbell, “even though it is a cool system.” Nevertheless, she knew she was hooked and plans to get back to a radiology department before long.

“Before I got the job at the hospital, I was thinking I’d go into some sort of medical field. I just wasn’t sure what,” said Campbell. “When I started working in radiology, I fell in love.”

It’s just that type of passion, combined with good grades and a proven work ethic, that made Campbell stand out from a field of scholarship applicants at Athens High School.

“We’ve been working with the Health Occupational Students Association for a while now,” said Jack Endres, associate administrator at ETMC Athens. “Offering this scholarship was a natural next step, and I’m thrilled someone like Amanda was chosen. I believe she’ll be a benefit to the healthcare field, and the fact that we can help is a pleasure.”

Essary can’t say enough about the hospital’s contributions to the high school’s Health Science Technology Program.

“They have provided job opportunities, clinical rotation opportunities, donations to HOSA, as well as this new scholarship,” she said. “Without the hospital's support, our program would not exist.”

Since her time at ETMC Athens, Campbell has also worked as a pharmacy clerk and is currently a physical therapy aide. Those experiences have been invaluable, she said, but her mind hasn’t changed about radiology.

“College is so expensive. I’m grateful for this scholarship,” said Campbell, who will start at TJC in the fall. “It’s important to me that it’s from ETMC Athens because that’s where I got my start in the medical field.”

She also credits Essary, whom she described as “a teacher who really cares about us.”

“If it wasn’t for Mrs. Essary,” said Campbell, “I wouldn’t have gotten this far.”

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