09May Balancing Work, Parenthood, and College: One Graduate’s Story by Wendy Weichenthal B. Wetare Makilagi’s father always emphasized the importance of hard work and the importance of education. “He really tried to push us to become educated and to get degrees – that was his main message to me and to all of my siblings,” Wetare shared. “My father passed away. He would have been very proud of me. His birthday is on graduation day, so that’s going to be a very special day for me.” Wetare in the MTC sonography lab. Wetare came to the United States after graduating from high school in Tanzania. He worked in a variety of businesses until he found a passion for entering the medical field. This student will receive his associate of applied science degree to enter a growing and lucrative field: sonography. The median annual salary in our area is about $63,000 a year, according to EMSI. “I’m a part of finding out different diagnoses for different patient. The idea of helping people get well is what I enjoy most about my field,” Wetare stated. Wetare plans on taking his licensing exam for the general abdomen, and perhaps adding other licenses for vascular and echo by the end of the year to be more marketable. This student is also working hard to find his first job in this new career. “I’m applying for jobs right now. Some of my peers have already been hired by certain people. I hope to have a job by the time I graduate,” Wetare hopes. This future sonographer is the top student in his sonography class, a competitive, limited enrollment program at MTC. This is one of only 13 accredited programs of this type in the state. Wetare received a scholarship and recognition from the Marion General Hospital Foundation for his achievement. He has experience in a variety of workplace settings through his clinical internships. “We felt well-prepared going into clinicals. The experience has been great – I’m learning so much,” Wetare said. “I’ve made some good contacts through my clinicals.” Working, attending college, and parenting is not a balance for the faint of heart. However, family support of his efforts make it possible for him to walk across the graduation stage this May. He appreciated his fiancée’s understanding when college, work, or clinicals interfered with family events. “There’s a lot of trials and tribulations along the way that could have made me stop from pursuing what I wanted to do. But I kept going. Just keep pushing! Be persistent,” Wetare shared. “I have a very strong family support system. Without that, I don’t think that I would be here. To me, that is the most important thing. Whenever I had a tough time, my support system came through. I found time to do what I had to do.” Deb Myers, Director of the sonography program, instructs Wetare and another student. Wetare believes his sacrifice for his education will make an impression on his son and his fiancée’s children. He recalls taking them to Magic Mountain for fun and then coming home to do his studies. “I try to lead by example. They’ve seen me these last three years. They’ve seen how hard I work. It’s important that they know what I went through to get this degree. Standing up there will just be a testament to them. If I can do it, you can do it, too,” Wetare shared. Deb Myers, director of the program, suggested that Wetare would be an excellent graduation speaker because of overcoming his challenges. “Wetare has faced a lot of adversity in his life. He came from Tanzania. He is a divorced parent. He lost his father. He’s working and going to school and raising his son,” shared Deb Myers, Director of the Medical Imaging Program at MTC. “The first day he walked into my office, I could tell he was a very caring person.” Myers shared that she was nervous about Wetare entering a tough, demanding field that’s predominantly staffed by women. Wetare practices giving an ultrasound while his instructor and another classmate look on. “He’s been well-accepted because of his personality and good nature. He’s very focused and a hard worker,” Myers shared. “I’m proud of his accomplishments. I think he would be a great asset to any employer.” While Wetare wraps up his associate of applied science degree, he strongly recommends the program to others. “The program is great. MTC is a great place to get your education. The people here are very nice and helpful. It’s a great atmosphere. The classes are not too crowded. The instructors take the time to answer individual questions and deal with any concerns you might have. It feels personal more than anything,” Wetare stated. Wetare is one of 250 MTC students who are graduating on May 12, 2018. MTC can’t wait to see what they will accomplish next!