RIO GRANDE — Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. But the right education makes the navigation process a little easier.
Take 21-year-old Emily Burnham. Thanks to the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College, the Lewiston, Montana, native will earn her Associate of Applied Science Degree in Radiologic Technology in May and continue her education at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
“It’s a crazy opportunity. They have a 100 percent pass rate and job placement,” Burnham said. “They’re the No. 1 research hospital, and they just started working with Proton Beam Therapy. … It was one of those long shots. It never hurts to apply, but never in a million years did I think I would get it.”
Growing up in Montana, Burnham never heard of Rio Grande, Ohio. She started her collegiate career in Indiana, but quickly felt lost in the shuffle and looked the transfer.
At Rio Grande, she found the student-centered approach and one-on-one opportunities with faculty that allowed her to thrive.
“I don’t think I would’ve ended up at Mayo if I didn’t come to Rio,” Burnham said. “The faculty got to know me and what I would be good at. At a bigger school, I probably would’ve just settled.”
Burnham was one of 70 applicants for the Mayo Clinic’s Radiation Therapy program. She was one of 14 finalists selected for on-campus interviews and one of the seven accepted into the program.
“It took a long time for it to sink in,” said Burnham, who got the call while eating a shrimp wrap on the beach in Florida for spring break. “I’m very proud.”
Chris Barker, an associate professor and clinical coordinator for Rio’s Radiologic Technology Program, said working with each student to find their best-suited career path is a priority at Rio Grande.
Barker said Burnham is caring and compassionate, yet strong — characteristics needed for radiation therapy. Barker said he and Tracey Boggs, associate professor and director of the Radiologic Technology Program, encourage each student to explore their opportunities.
“Just learn as much as you can,” Barker said. “A lot of students are young and just don’t know what’s out there.”
The results speak for themselves. Rio’s Radiologic Technology Program boasts a 100 percent pass rate on the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists licensure exam since 2011.
Burnham is one of eight Radiologic Technology graduates who will be honored during a pinning ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Bob Evans Farms Hall, room 118. The 2014 class also includes Jared Bartley, Ginger Brown, Jocelyn George, Heather Graman, Rob Ray, Tia Wallace and Amanda Williams.
Graman and George also have plans to further their education. Graman will pursue a diagnostic medical sonography degree from Rio, while George will pursue a baccalaureate in health care administration at Rio.
Rio Grande also will host pinning ceremonies this spring for its respiratory therapy program on May 7 and the nursing program May 9. The respiratory pinning is scheduled for 6 p.m. in Bob Evans Farms Hall, room 111. The nurse pinning is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Berry Fine & Performing Arts Center.