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Through the Decades … Del Mar College Radiologic Technology Alums Recount Experiences, Share Where They Are Now and Why They Chose Field

04

June

2024

|

16:04 PM

Europe/Amsterdam

Reflections of four alumns cover five decades of training as DMC program celebrates 50th Anniversary on June 5

Article by Melinda Eddleman

Del Mar College’s (DMC) Radiologic Technology Program first started on June 3, 1974, with its first cohort training on one analog-type radiographic system that created images on film. Over the past 50 years, technology evolved and moved the medical imaging field into the computerized era that generates digital images, even in 3D, which are safer and capture a patient’s medical pathology more accurately to determine their diagnosis and prognosis for care.

hand-xray_text

hand-xray_text

Current Radiologic Technology majors, including 17 sophomore and 25 freshman students, now  train on six radiographic systems using advanced technology and complete clinical training at 12 sites in collaboration with healthcare industry partners.

The program is housed on the Windward Campus in the Health Sciences Complex as part of the Dental and Imaging Technology Department; and this Wednesday, June, 5, the Radiologic Technology Program will celebrate its 50th Anniversary with the following alumni helping mark the occasion with their own perspectives about the program, what inspired them to become “Rad Techs” and their experiences once they became part of the profession for fulfilling, life-changing and successful careers.

Alumni from four of the program’s five decades include:

Sylvia Suarez_1980s DMC Radiologic Technology Graduate

Sylvia Suarez_1980s DMC Radiologic Technology Graduate

1980s: Sylvia Suarez


She first attended Del Mar College to earn a degree to enter the banking and finance world; but after Sylvia Suarez suffered an injury requiring X-rays due to a fractured coccyx bone, she changed her mind and her focus from accounting to radiology.

The 1985 Mary Carroll High School graduate said, “I spoke to my advisor, who directed me to Polly at the Health Sciences Building, so I applied and soon received my letter of acceptance. Because of that inquiry after my injury, my career path changed.” She graduated from the College’s Radiologic Technology Program in 1988.

Suarez started working right out of school during the evening shift with two other female technologists at Memorial Hospital but soon expressed her desire to transfer to a daytime position if the opportunity became available. Suarez stayed in her  position for two years until the hospital’s new Chief Executive Officer arrived with a new vision and new opportunity, a mammography program, which would be a first for Memorial Hospital as well as the use of new Film Screen Mammography technology in the Coastal Bend.

Mammography was truly my calling to serve women in my community, provide the best care for early detection and diagnosis of breast cancer and save lives through the work I do.

Sylvia Suarez, DMC Radiologic Technology Program Alumna (1980s)

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Robert Valdez_1990s DMC Radiologic Technology Graduate

Robert Valdez_1990s DMC Radiologic Technology Graduate

1990s: Robert Valdez


Robert Valdez describes his path into radiology as a journey. The Corpus Christi native attended Roy Miller High School and headed to Houston for work right after graduation. But, life took an unexpected turn, and his father’s illness brought him back home.

“During this challenging period, I was introduced to the fascinating world of radiologic technology through my sister-in-law, who was working as a Rad Tech at a local hospital,” Valdez said, recalling that as much as he would probably have liked to tell people that he broke his finger playing college football, his injury actually occurred during an intramural flag football competition at Del Mar College that required the X-ray.

“My sister-in-law was the one who performed my X-ray, and she showed me what they did behind lead walls, so to speak; so after witnessing the power of radiographic images to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of patients, the field resonated with me,” he said. “As an artist, I was enthralled by the prospect of using technology to peer into the human body and make a difference in people’s lives.”

A new path began when Valdez enrolled in the College’s Radiologic Technology Program. But, he faced hardships, including his father’s passing shortly after he finished his training. Valdez also remained committed to his family as the youngest child by supporting his mother and staying in Corpus Christi.

“I recall my days as a graveyard darkroom technician, where the pungent scent of the chemicals permeated the air and my clothes as we processed films for radiologists’ interpretation,” Valdez said. “My artistic passion eventually convinced me to take a leap of faith and apply for the Sonography Program offered by the College.” He graduated three years after he started.

Regarding the evolution of the field, Valdez points out that radiology is immersed in the digital age where nearly 90% of images are captured and stored with digital technology, revolutionizing the field and enhancing diagnostic capabilities. “We are at the core of medicine with improvements in 3D imaging and the up-and-coming use of Artificial Intelligence,” he said.

Pat’s wisdom serves as a reminder that our professional journey is not merely about clocking in and out but about embracing a path of fulfillment and achievement.

Robert Valdez, DMC Radiologic Technology Program Alumnus (1990s)

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Valdez is one of only two South Texas Radiologic Technologists who has been inducted into the Texas Society of Radiologic Technologist’s Edna M. Elliott Technologist Hall of Fame.

Joy Samudio_2010s DMC Radiologic Technology Graduate

Joy Samudio_2010s DMC Radiologic Technology Graduate

2010s: Joy Samudio


Born in the Philippines, Joy Samudio moved to Hawaii with her family where she joined the U.S. Navy right after high school. She met her husband, a Corpus Christi native, in boot camp; and the couple decided to move back to his hometown when the time was right.

Samudio first worked as a Certified Nurse Aide or CNA at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Shoreline, but she ran into another healthcare professional pushing a cart and inquired about her field. . “ I’m an X-ray tech,” the woman responded and told Samudio all about the radiology field. 

“I thought to myself, ‘I can do that,’” Samudio noted, adding: “Del Mar College’s program was recommended to me, and their Veterans Services representative helped me with accessing my educational benefits available through my past military service.” She became the only “Rad Tech” in her family.

Samudio currently works at CHRISTUS Spohn Surgical Hospital. She agrees with the other DMC Radiologic Technology Program alumni that the digital technology now used in the field has evolved into a tool of the trade that is “more convenient, provides better image quality and subjects both patients and technologists to less radiation.”

“I never thought of becoming a Rad Tech, but I’m glad I did,” she said. “Being in this field is very fulfilling knowing that you’re helping your patients.”

Justin Bonewald_2021 DMC Radiologic Technology Graduate

Justin Bonewald_2021 DMC Radiologic Technology Graduate

2020s: Justin Bonewald
 

As a more recent Radiologic Technology Program graduate, Justin Bonewald moved from Halletsville, Tx., to Corpus Christi in 2016 to specifically enroll in Del Mar College’s program.

“I wanted to pursue my interest in radiologic technology at one of the best schools for it,” the 26-year-old said. “Being near the beach was also a ‘plus’ when making my decision.”

Bonewald credits his interest and inspiration to enter the field ever since he broke his first bone, a common experience that runs among some alumni and current students. But, he also noted that seeing how the technology can continue to advance and help in the medical world is “a beautiful thing.”

The 2021 DMC graduate works at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Shoreline as an Interventional Radiology Technologist but will soon transfer to the hospital’s catheterization or “cath” laboratory. He first started as an Operating Room X-ray Technician right after graduation; and after six months in that position, he moved into the Interventional modality.

He shared that working in Interventional Radiology means he’s been called in the middle of the night plenty of times for trauma incidences. “Rushing to the hospital but not speeding, getting everything ready, placing the patient on the table for a life-threatening bleed and saving their life right then and there gives you a rush, along with a feeling of satisfaction that a lot of people don’t get to experience.”
 

I love helping people; and if I can do that for at least one person each day, I know I’m making a difference.

Justin Bonewald, DMC Radiologic Technology Program Alumnus (2020s)

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DMC Radiologic Technology Program

DMC Radiologic Technology Program

Anyone interested in learning about the field and the DMC Radiologic Technology Program can go online at www.delmar.edu/degrees/radiologic-technology/index.html or contact Del Mar College’s Dental and Imaging Technology Department at 361-698-2858.

About Del Mar College

Del Mar College empowers students to achieve their dreams. We offer quality programs, individual attention, outstanding instruction through faculty with real-world experience and affordable costs to credit and noncredit students in Corpus Christi and the South Texas Coastal Bend area. Nationally recognized while locally focused, we’re ranked in the top two percent of community colleges in the country granting associate degrees to Hispanic students (Community College Week). Del Mar College focuses on offering our students programs that match current or emerging career opportunities. Whether students are interested in the fine arts, sciences, business, occupational or technical areas, students get the education they need for the future they want at Del Mar College.

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