I AM UAA: Judy McDonald

April 25, 2012

A.A.S. Radiologic Technology ’10
Radiology Coordinator, Central Peninsula Hospital
Hometown: Kenai, Alaska
Fun Fact: Learned how to apply for financial aid from her daughter Rosa

Judy McDonald’s second chance came when her husband of 20 years “fired” her. The newly single mom needed to figure out a plan B to support herself and her two kids. Scholarships at UAA gave her that second chance to get back up and embrace the next chapter of her life.

I AM UAA Judy McDonald

At the time of her divorce, Judy was working as a file clerk for a doctor’s office, a place that inspired her to start thinking about a career in radiologic technology. “Every day I watched the lab techs at work and it piqued my interest,” Judy says.

“I had no idea I could go to school,” she says, “not only because I was just making ends meet, but over the years I heard over and over that I probably wasn’t smart enough to succeed in college—I started to believe it.”

But then some people that challenged that belief entered Judy’s life. The doctor that Judy worked for was quick to recognize her talent and potential. When asked to complete radiology tasks in the office, Judy rose to the top—something that didn’t go unnoticed. This positive feedback led Judy to chase that second chance of earning her college degree. She also met a lovely gentleman that encouraged her pursuit of a higher education.

With new hope, Judy started believing in herself again and enrolled in a summer algebra class to kick-start her college journey.

When it came time for her daughter Rosa to finish high school and explore college options, Judy watched intently as Rosa sought out loans and grants to help pay her way. “She taught me how to go through the process of seeking financial aid.”

I AM UAA Judy McDonaldJudy maintained a full-time job during the course of her studies at UAA. “I couldn’t have made it through without scholarships,” she says. She also credits a great support system. “You need people that believe you can do it, but you have to believe in yourself first.”

Judy—who lives in Kenai—was able to complete the two-year radiologic technology program mainly via distance delivery. She traveled to Anchorage for a two-week stint to complete clinical hours and also elected to do a rotation in Bethel as a bonus.

A 2010 recipient of the Second Chance Scholarship, Judy says that receiving this scholarship truly did give her a second chance. “For years I believed I was created to be a wife and mom,” she says, “but when that fell through, I needed a plan B.”

The Second Chance Scholarship was established by the late Margaret Krieber in 2008. Since its creation, the scholarship has changed the lives of more than 20 UAA students pursuing careers in allied health fields.

Thanks to the support of scholarships, Judy was able to earn her associate degree debt free. “I’m very fortunate and I know that,” she says. “I certainly wasn’t rich; it was scholarships, grants and a very tight budget that got me through.”

Even after the urge to quit her first semester, Judy says she was inspired to push on. “People give this money to scholarships with the hope that someone is going to better themselves. Someone believed in me; I knew I needed to stay with the program and make a difference.”

Judy took hold of her second chance and earned her Associate of Applied Science degree in radiologic technology in 2010. She now works as a radiology coordinator for Central Peninsula Hospital, where she juggles a busy schedule, keeps the hospital’s radiology equipment up to par and works as an x-ray technologist.

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