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2018 Elekta Radiation Therapy Scholarship awarded to four students


Aaron Oaks and Bob Thomas from Elekta with Steve Hardy, Executive Vice President of Development and Corporate Relations

Funded by Elekta, the ASRT Foundation annually chooses four students – individuals who have shown they have the dedication, desire and ability to pursue a career as a radiation therapist – to receive a scholarship of $5,000 each to help fund their educational program.

ASRT’s Steve Hardy, M.S., R.T.(R)(T)(CT), CMD said, “Elekta has generously funded scholarships in partnership with the ASRT Foundation since 2006, assisting 48 individuals in achieving their dream of becoming a radiation therapist. We are grateful for Elekta’s continued generosity, which ensures motivated students are able to meet their rigorous program demands without the added financial stress.”

The winners of the 2018 Elekta Radiation Therapy Scholarship are Taylor Harmon, Grey Pauley, Kassashun Bahiru G. Medhin and Molly Gunning.

Taylor Harmon – Powering through health challenges to realize a dream

Taylor Harmon’s determination to become a radiation therapist has sustained her through daunting personal issues relating to her mother’s Type I diabetes and her own challenge with autoimmune disease.

“My mother has been ill since before I was born; over the past 10 years, her diabetes had begun to shut down her organs, resulting in a diagnosis of terminally ill about six years ago,” says Taylor, a junior at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. “Thankfully, University of Wisconsin Health Hospital doctors were able to save my mother’s life with a pancreas transplant. Unfortunately, complications of her disease have caused her to be diagnosed as terminal again.”

Taylor, herself, has had to deal with her own illness – rheumatoid arthritis – which was diagnosed when she was only 17-years-old. For several years, her condition prevented her from doing the things she loves – such as playing volleyball and even walking – and, unfortunately, just one autoimmune disease wouldn’t be the last of her health issues.

“At age 20, I was diagnosed with another autoimmune disorder – celiac disease,” Taylor says. “I had exploratory surgery due to severe GI pain. They found my gall bladder to be highly active and it had to be removed immediately.”

She credits her “amazing care team” and her desire to further her education as critical to her getting closer to living a normal, healthier life. However, the financial strain that health problems has put on her family has been immense, requiring her to assume tremendous student loan debt. The good news is that her Elekta scholarship has significantly reduced her burden.

“This scholarship will pay for almost an entire semester of tuition when I am completing my internship and classes at UW Health Hospital in the fall of 2019,” Taylor notes. “I cannot express how much this grant will help me in paying for my schooling. It has allowed me and my family to worry much less about finding a way to fund my education. We can focus on being together and enjoy the time we have left as a family of four.

“I am thrilled to start applying my knowledge to the clinical world and graduate in August 2019,” she adds. “The thought of working in the field of radiation therapy in a little over a year is very exciting!”

Grey Pauley – “Paying it forward” for children with serious illnesses

Driven by her desire to help the country’s youngest patients, radiation therapist program student Grey Pauley hopes one day to work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (Memphis, Tennessee). Her receipt of an Elekta Radiation Therapy Scholarship grant will help make that reality, according to Grey.

“I was so excited and emotional to learn about my selection for this award and feel unable to truly express my gratitude for your generosity,” she says. “By awarding me this scholarship, you have lessened my financial burden significantly, which will allow me to focus my attention on my education.”

Kassashun Bahiru G Medhin – Dedication to healing and his family

Augusta University Radiation Therapy Program student Kassashun Bahiru G Medhin is thriving academically, earning a GPA of 4.0 during the fall 2017 semester, demonstrating his commitment to becoming the best radiation therapist he can be. Despite his hard work, the road hasn’t been easy, Kassashun, a junior, admits.

“The financial problems have been challenging,” he says. “My wife, children and mother – who live in Ethiopia – rely completely on my income for their livelihoods. For that reason, I have been working as an Uber driver on weekends to send money to my family. Without the assistance of Dr. Abi Mekoya [internal medicine physician] and his family for housing, food and moral support, I would have had to quit school in March 2018.”

With the added monetary benefit of the Elekta scholarship, however, things are really looking up, Kassashun says.

“This scholarship is a huge help as I pursue my education, enabling me to put more effort into my studies while working fewer hours per week to support my family and myself,” he says. “I can’t thank Elekta enough for the scholarship funds that came at the right time for a person in my financial situation.”

Molly Gunning – Cancer hitting home for University of St. Francis junior

For Molly Gunning, continuing her radiation therapy studies has special meaning – her mother is battling cancer.

“My mother is the sole income in our home and this past years she was unable to work due to her disease,” Molly, a junior at the University of St. Francis (Joliet, Illinois), relates. “We had no idea how we were going to fund my senior year. However, the Elekta Radiation Therapy scholarship has relieved all of that stress – it is a true gift to my mother and me.

“I was absolutely ecstatic and extremely honored to find out that I was selected as the recipient of this generous scholarship,” she adds. “It is because of Elekta that students like me can continue to thrive in our learning environment without fear of financial strain. The company is a real blessing in my life and I appreciate it all it does.”

National Radiologic Technology Week®

National Radiologic Technology Week® (NRTW) is celebrated annually to recognize the vital work of RTs across the nation. The celebration takes place each year during the week that includes Nov. 8 to commemorate the discovery of the x-ray by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen on Nov. 8, 1895. NRTW® 2018 will be celebrated Nov. 4-10.

The week-long celebration calls attention to the important role medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals play in patient care and health care safety.

Each year, a poster is chosen to represent that year’s NRTW them. This year’s theme is “Powerful Together.”

Elekta Radiation Therapy Scholarship

The Elekta Radiation Therapy Scholarship was established to help the best and brightest students afford their radiation therapy programs. Elekta cares deeply about the oncology profession and is a passionate supporter of radiation therapists. Four scholarships of $5,000 each are awarded annually.

The American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT), located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a professional membership association for medical imaging technologists, radiation therapists and radiologic science students. To apply for scholarships, visit here.