The few minutes it takes to complete an aptitude test may shape the course of your life—or at least so they did for Exira, Iowa native and former stockman Brian Juhl, who swapped out his tool belt for a pair of medical scrubs.
After graduating high school in 1994, I attended Iowa State University for a half of a semester and decided it wasn't for me, so I discontinued my involvement and went to work full-time for a construction company. My first job involved putting up steel buildings for about two years. I then worked for another construction company for approximately three years doing concrete work. I then moved on to another company in Des Moines, Iowa, also concrete work, and remained there for about two years before joining the union working as a concrete finisher. I continued to work at this job for roughly one year before starting to work for a boar stud (hog confinement).
I worked for the hog confinement for about five years and knew I wanted something more in regards to a long-term career, which led to me taking an aptitude test.
Radiologic technology was one of the professions that came up on my aptitude test results, so I completed a job shadow and thought it would be something to pursue. Before applying to Clarkson College, I took classes at Iowa Western Community College and received an Associate's degree in Biological Sciences.
I did. In fact, I quit after the first semester at Clarkson College because I was trying to work, go to school, pay bills and find time for family, which simply wore me out. I went back to work at the hog confinement for about one year until I decided to contact Shelli Weddum [RT and Medical Imaging Assistant Director] about re-enrolling in school and what the process would be. I soon received a call from Ellen Collins [RT and Medical Imaging Director], stating that Clarkson College would allow me to begin taking classes from where I had left off. I quit my job and decided to dedicate my attention to school and completing the RT program.
I chose Clarkson College over the other schools I researched because it allowed me to do all of my classwork in the first year and then complete my clinical rotations my second year in Atlantic, Iowa, which is close to home.
After completing my clinical rotations, I was hired at Cass County Memorial Hospital upon graduation in 2013. I later received my Bachelor's degree in Medical Imaging in 2016. I am currently certified in X-Ray, CT and MRI and am the lead technologist in the MRI department, which means I am involved in each modality on a weekly basis. One of my greatest career accomplishments so far has been assisting with starting a new MRI suite at the hospital.
This career is something I can do for the rest of my working life. I also enjoy helping people when they are most vulnerable and feel as if I am a crucial part of the recovery process.
I would like to give a special thanks to the staff at Clarkson College, as well as Ellen Collins for believing in me and helping me reach my goals as an RT and beyond. I also extend a huge thanks to my family for all of their patience and help.
Alumna and Omaha, Neb. native Susan Gillum is living proof that it’s never too late to start over. After 26 years of working in various management positions in the corporate world, she took her career into an entirely new direction and couldn’t be happier because of it.
My first job was as a courtesy clerk at Hy-Vee. I continued to work at Hy-Vee as a shift manager while attending Creighton University. After graduating with an Accounting/Finance degree, I decided to go full-time with Hy-Vee. During my career with Hy-Vee, I moved to Kansas City, Kan., Lincoln Neb. and finally returned to Omaha to be close to family. During this time, I helped open many stores for Hy-Vee. I worked for Hy-Vee for 26 years in various management positions, working my way up to store director.
After having my second child, Sara, I took some time off to be with my family. During this time, I did some soul searching. I wanted a career that would allow me to spend time with family and also give back to my community.
Another parent in my oldest child’s kindergarten class was a graduate from Clarkson College and informed me about the PTA program. After doing some research, I found that Clarkson College was known for its PTA program. I went to a physical therapist for a back problem and was very impressed with the process. I figured this would be a great way to make a difference and decided to apply to the program.
I knew this would be a big life changer. I had two young children, and I was also pregnant with my third child. I was inspired by my mom, who went back to school when I was a young child and had seven children. I wanted to follow my dream and was passionate about meeting my goals.
My husband was very supportive about me going back to school.
I recall being nine months pregnant when I attended New Student Orientation. I was one of the older students in my class and received a lot of support from the other students and faculty. I remember waking up in the middle of the night to feed my newborn baby and would have my notes ready
to study as I rocked her. My older kids became my volunteers for me to practice what I was learning in school.
I had an excellent experience. I was honored to be elected President of the Clarkson College PTA Student Association. This was a very fulfilling experience. We also gave back to the community by volunteering for different events, such as the Special Olympics, Healthy Kids and MS Forward.
I felt like Clarkson College did an excellent job preparing me to be a successful PTA. After graduating and passing my boards, I started out doing home health and accepted a full-time
job with Hillcrest Health and Rehab, where I have been working since March 2015.
I am very excited about being a PTA at Hillcrest. It has been very fulfilling, and I have an excellent team that I work with in the therapy department. Hillcrest has the work culture that I was looking for and has been very supportive of my family life. The company also provides many opportunities to continue my education in my field.
I feel very fortunate that I’ve had this opportunity to have a second career and would recommend it to anyone who has the passion to make a life change. It has been fulfilling going home each day knowing I made a difference in my patients’ lives.