'You know, life happened'; Fractures couldn't crack ACC Radiology graduate

“It doesn’t feel real yet. I have been on a never-ending road trip. Just getting from where I was to where I am now, it’s a sigh of relief. It has all been a journey.”

Austin Community College graduate Gaye Judson earned her Associate of Applied Science degree in Diagnostic Medical Imaging at ACC in August 2019 — a feat that she says almost didn’t happen.

“This is what I wanted for many years. If it weren’t for this group of professors and how much they care about their students, I wouldn’t have made it. They want us to succeed and fulfill our dreams.”

In April 2018, just three weeks before the end of the semester, Gaye suffered a stroke. 

“I was bawling my eyes out at the hospital. It wasn’t because of the stroke. It was because I didn’t think I could complete the program. In my mind, I was worried the professors would tell me to go and come back next year. That wasn’t an option.” 

To her surprise, Gaye’s professors told her to rest, and they would work to keep her credits up at the college. Two weeks later, Gaye took her final exams and moved her remaining clinical to the following semester. 

“I don’t know if I would have come back and finished without their support. My recovery wouldn’t have been as fast. The coursework was great therapy. Working on papers helped my hand-eye coordination. It also improved my critical thinking.”

The encouragement Gaye received mirrors her first time at ACC. She initially enrolled out of high school, but a three-week stretch of missing school almost forced her to drop out.

“After getting strep, a kidney infection, and my wisdom teeth removed back-to-back, I didn’t think there was any way I could catch up. I submitted my withdrawal, but my professor called me and said he would see me Monday. They worked to get me back on track.”

During her first stint at ACC, Gaye found herself bouncing around courses trying to determine what she wanted to do. As life would happen, Gaye ended up moving to California with her family. A few years later, she started to explore her future again.

“I was a single mom struggling to feed my kids.”

At the influence of a friend, she began working in the radiology department of a hospital. 

“I loved it. I loved every second of working there. The people and patient contact are what led me to pursue radiology.”

Fast-forward a few years, and Gaye found herself back in Central Texas and back at ACC.

“My kids were done with school and doing their thing. It was time for me to finish. Coming back to ACC, after all I have been through, I was more focused. I don’t think it has sunk in yet that I have graduated, but I am ready for what is coming next.”

Since graduating, Gaye landed a job as a radiology technologist at a Seton Ascension clinic. She plans to continue her education by getting her CT and mammography certification. 

“Radiology is the first step in a diagnosis. It's rewarding, it’s exciting, it’s changing. Technology is changing all the time, and it is getting better and better. It is one of the most challenging things you have ever done in your entire life, but it is worth it.”

For more information about ACC’s Radiology program, visit austincc.edu/radiology.

Comments

What a nice article. Gaye is my daughter and I was privileged to watch how hard she worked to finish the radiology program at ACC and to witness the support and care she received from her professors and some classmates during the difficult time following her stroke. I am in awe of the caliber of teachers and students ACC draws and am ever grateful for the help you all gave to my daughter.

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