Wallace State Diagnostic Imaging celebrates Class of 2020

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Wallace State Diagnostic Imaging student Brianna Rose of Hartselle is pinned by program Clinical Coordinator Kelli Rich during a recent pinning ceremony for the students graduating at the end of the fall semester. Program director Jim Malone is in the background. (Wallace State)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. — The Wallace State Community College Diagnostic Imaging program recently celebrated its graduating class of 2020 with a socially distanced event at the college’s Peinhardt Conference Center. With a limited number of guests watching, the students completing their final semester of the program were recognized at the pinning ceremony marking their achievements.

These graduates will soon join the workforce as health care heroes in the radiology departments of hospitals and clinics. Diagnostic imaging plays an important role in diagnoses of numerous conditions. Professionals perform X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, mammography and more.

This class faced a number of unknowns, not the least of which was the pandemic. They were also the first cohort for the new four-semester curriculum.

Speaking on behalf of her classmates, Victoria Braswell of Falkville said they were going to be facing something new. “But none of us knew that COVID was going to happen,” she said. “That we were going to be told on March, Friday the 13th that clinic was dismissed until further notice and we had no idea what we were going to do.”

She added, “We have hit so many bumps along the way, just faking it until we made it. And here in a couple of weeks we can finally say that we made it. We should be proud and take this time to celebrate with our friends and family because of their support and their words of encouragement to get us across the finish line.”

Braswell expressed thanks to program director Jim Malone and clinical coordinator Kelli Rich as well. “They dealt with us in the trenches of all this confusion and insanity, dealing with hundreds of questions from us and complaints, losing sleep trying to figure out what we were going to do and not make it any harder than it was going to be for us.”

Malone and Rich admitted they were challenged as well as they tried to make sure their students were provided with the resources that they would need to complete their training. That included clinical training during a time when clinical sites were unable to take on students due to COVID-19.

“I knew it was my responsibility to make sure that our students had a clinical site where they could get their competencies needed so they could graduate,” Rich said. “And at times I didn’t know that we were going to make it. All I could do is pray. I did a lot of praying.”

Fortunately, clinical sites began to open early in the summer.

“This class worked so hard,” Rich said. “And you are all set for graduation and to be eligible to sit for your registry, and I am so proud of each and every one of you for the hard work you’ve put in, for hanging in there when times got tough. I thank all of your family, because it wasn’t just you; it took everybody in the household.”

“This class will be the most memorable for me,” Malone said, “because it has been one for the books. But today marks a milestone in your journey as a student radiologic technologist. It means an achievement of a goal, a steppingstone to other goals. Let today serve as a journey to the entry of our great profession of radiologic technology.”

Awards were presented to a number of students for their personal achievements, including in Academic Excellence and in Clinical Excellence. The Academic Excellence award is presented to students who maintained a 4.0 GPA while in the Diagnostic Imaging program. The in Clinical Excellence award is awarded to the student who exhibits remarkable qualities during their clinical experience.

Jason Phillips of Cullman earned both the in Academic Excellence and the Clinical Excellence awards. Peyton Montgomery of Sheffield, McKenzie Maddox of Remlap and Bridget Savage of Birmingham each earned the Academic Excellence award.

Wallace State’s Diagnostic Imaging program consistently boasts high with credentialing examination and job placement rates. The most recent rates for 2019 are 97% for successful first attempts on the credentialing exam and 96% for job placement.

Registration is currently underway for the spring 2021 semester. To register and for more information about the Diagnostic Imaging and other programs at Wallace State, visit www.wallacestate.edu or call 256-352-8000.