MARIETTA, OHIO— Washington State Community College’s Student of the Month Mary Dennis is an amateur photographer whose career pursuit was inspired by her picture-taking pastime. She took her love of capturing images and turned it into a career… but with a twist.
Radiology wasn’t the first career choice for the 26-year-old. As a new graduate from St. Mary’s High School, she was convinced the lucrative field of pharmacy would be a great career and moved away to go to college. That’s where she discovered that working in this profession wouldn’t give her the one-on-one engagements that she likes. “It’s not all about the money. For me, it’s more about the personal approach,” Dennis confessed. Not wanting to disappoint anyone, she attempted to push herself through the program. As a result, she found herself sinking into a depression.
Ultimately, for her mental well-being, she decided to quit school and return home. Dedicated to improving her health, she turned to her favorite hobby—photography. Things began to come into focus when she began working in sterile processing at a local hospital. Her role exposed her to a wide array of professions, including radiology. That’s when she realized that she could align her recreational activity with career pursuits and decided to earn a degree in radiology. “It started with my passion for photography, but I wanted something beyond the surface. [Radiology] is like photography with your bones,” she joked.
While making the decision was easy, she admitted it was still scary. However, she said she finds fear can be motivating. “When you start saying yes, it opens you up to new experiences and opportunities,” explained Dennis. That first big yes of enrolling at WSCC and she was suddenly seeing her future through a new lens. “Working in radiology allows me to make those personal connections that I truly love, but it also allows me to utilize my critical thinking skills,” she explained.
In the classroom and clinical rotations, her proclivity for her work is apparent to her instructors. “Clinically, Mary has excellent patient care and always makes her patients feel comfortable. She takes pride in her images and has great attention to detail. Didactically, she has never wavered,” said WSCC’s Radiologic Technology Program Director Aimee Phillips. “She excels in the classroom because she is an engaged student that listens, asks questions, and follows up for complete understanding. She is able to critically think through the many aspects of radiologic science.”
In July, Dennis will earn her associate degree in Radiologic Technology and plans to pursue additional certification to become a CT or MRI technologist.