Meet the Recipients

The Foundation for Surgical Technology is honored to announce its 2016 scholarship recipients. Scroll down to see this year's scholars or click Previous Academic Scholars to find recipients from 2015.

  • $1,000 Don Braziel Award

    Emily Schmidt

    Sponsored by the Georgia State Assembly and the Foundation

    Eastern Maine Community College, Bangor, Maine

    I am currently enrolled in the surgical technology program at Eastern Maine Community College with a graduation date of December 2016. Since my sophomore year in high school, I have been interested in surgical technology. I had the opportunity to observe a number of surgeries at the Mayo Regional Hospital in Dover Foxcroft for five days. During that time, I witnessed firsthand what the job entails. Surgical technology appeals to me because it is a respected profession that is dedicated to helping people remain healthy.

    I am passionate about helping others in my community, and I want to touch lives and make an impact. I love working and volunteering, and this has dramatically influenced my career choice. Through my experiences I have developed a strong interest in the medical field. When I was in the third grade I was taken into state custody, after which I was bounced around from group homes and, eventually, put into a foster home. Since then, I knew I wanted to help others just like my foster mother helped me to grow as a child and strive for nothing but the best in everything I do.

    Throughout this course I have really enjoyed my time in the OR.This program requires many hands-on experiences to understand this career, and with my time in the OR it has extended my knowledge beyond what was taught in the classroom. When I graduate, I look forward to becoming a fulltime CST with hopes of being the best scrub I can be.

  • $1,000 Bob Caruthers Award

    Vanessa Johnston

    Sponsored by the Texas State Assembly

    Vernon College, Wichita Falls, Texas

    I chose surgical technology as my career because I have an interest in human anatomy and I am a hands-on person so this career lets me fulfill both of those interests. I have plans to graduate in August, work for a hospital for a few years and go back to school for my first assist.

    Throughout school I have enjoyed surgical procedures 1 and 2 because it has given me a deeper knowledge of human anatomy, and I get to see it all in clinicals. After graduation, I am mostly looking forward to starting my lifelong career as a surgical technologist.

  • $1,000

    Sydney Querfeld, CST

    Sponsored by the Foundation

    Montgomery College, Takoma Park, Maryland

    I am honored to have received the Foundation for Surgical Technology scholarship award sponsored by the NBSTSA and the AST. I recently graduated from Montgomery College and passed the certification exam in May, and am excited to begin my career as a surgical technologist. I am currently in the midst of job searching and planning a move, with my husband, to Austin, Texas.

    There were two experiences that I enjoyed most while being a student. The first was getting to consistently interact with my preceptors – one-on-one – not only about what surgeries we were performing on a particular day, but also how I could better prepare for the various potential scenarios that could arise during each specific surgery. Similarly, I enjoyed collaborating with my classmates in an effort to help each other learn the more abstract, didactic material of our program. The opportunity to work alongside my peers to creatively remember the names of instruments, characteristics of sterilization methods and blood flow – just to give a few examples – was greatly beneficial to us all and, more importantly, helped develop a veritable sense of teamwork, a quality which is integral to working in the operating room.

    My plans for the future are both directed and chronologically vague. While I am looking forward to employment as a surgical technologist and to exercise the skills that I have developed as a student, my ultimate career aspiration is to become a physician's assistant. In this capacity, I would be able to continue participating in the exciting environment that is surgery, but also be able to care for the patient before and after their operation.

  • $1,000

    Queosha Jones, CST

    Sponsored by the Foundation

    Ulster County BOCES, Lake Katrine, New York

    I grew up always knowing that I wanted a career in the healthcare field. After a few major life changes, I stumbled upon a course for surgical technology. I realized the amazing opportunity to gain a hands-on career in healthcare. I would be able to be an integral member of a team that changes patients' lives everyday.

    Once I began the course my passion for surgical technology increased immediately. I fell in love with everything the body can do and my part in helping heal it. I graduated from Ulster BOCES in June 2016. I've enjoyed the clinical aspect of my studies the most. It has given me the opportunity to learn hands on and completely understand what my role will be in the operating room.

    After graduation, I am looking forward to being a Certified Surgical Technologist, and working in a main operating room to further my skills. I also plan to further my education and pursue a degree in nursing or become a physician's assistant. I am grateful to have found surgical technology; it changed my life. I finally found my passion in life and am excited for what the future holds.

  • $1,000

    James Perusse, CST

    Sponsored by the Foundation

    Ulster County BOCES, Lake Katrine, New York

    It is truly an honor to be awarded this scholarship. The decision to go back to school in a completely different field was not an easy one to arrive at and one that I was admittedly hesitant to make. Ultimately, the choice was made, because I wanted to make a difference in a challenge and exciting new environment.

    As a student, it has been such a wonderful academic experience as well as a hands-on experience in the lab and clinical portions of our program. Our class instructor, Mrs Penny Foody, and our program director, Ms Barbara Maderi, have been so supportive and encouraging in preparing us for our new careers as surgical techs. It has been a real pleasure getting to know such a great group of people all working toward a common goal.

    With graduation right around the corner, I can honestly say that I am glad to have made the decision to become a surgical technologist. I am fortunate to have been hired as a tech at am ambulatory surgery center near my home and look forward to gaining knowledge and developing my skills.

    As for the future, my goals are to be the strongest tech, preceptor and resource I can be and to continue my education and possibly become a clinical or classroom instructor in a program such as the one I am in. Thank you to my classmates for making this experience so fantastic. I'm proud to be a part of the Ulster BOCES graduating Surgical Technology Class of 2015-2016!

  • $1,000 Don Braziel Award

    Ronni Allen, CST

    Sponsored by the Texas State Assembly

    Tarrant County College, Fort Worth, Texas

    I graduated in June and I have enjoyed my surgical technology program in so many ways. One part that I've really enjoyed is working with new preceptors on a daily basis. It gives me the opportunity to work with a variety of people and personalities, as well as learn different ways to setup for each case. In learning various preceptors' setups, it has enabled me to develop my own unique style of preparing for procedures. I've also really enjoyed learning so much about surgery in general. I never truly understood what went on behind closed OR doors until I began my clinical rotations. I love being a part of the “team effort” in the OR and I am so passionate about putting the patient first — Aeger Primo. I am looking forward to becoming certified and working in a fairly large hospital soon after graduation.

    I definitely would not have made it to where I am today without the help and support of my family, friends and amazing instructors. I am so thankful to have found my calling and am excited to see what the future holds for me.

  • $1,000

    Hang Nguyen, CST

    Sponsored by the Foundation

    Triton College, River Grove, Illinois

    For years, I've gone back and forth about my career path and nothing seemed to interest me as much as surgery. A doctor I currently work for recommended surgical technology. After researching what being a surgical technologist entails, I knew this was the field for me. Being able to work directly with surgeons to improve a patient's lifestyle was something I knew I wanted to be a part of. Not only do I get the pleasure of helping patients, but I am also constantly learning, which is something I needed for myself.

    After being accepted into the program and months of hard work, I will be graduating the surgical technologist program in the summer of 2016 from Triton College. I mostly enjoyed going to my clinical site and being able to experience what it means to be a surgical technologist. My goal after graduating is to gain as much experience as possible and continue my education by becoming a surgical first assistant.

  • $1,000

    Katiana Pieri, CST

    Sponsored by the Foundation

    Ulster County BOCES, Lake Katrine, New York

    Being in the surgical technology program with BOCES New York has been a rewarding journey in many aspects, but most of all the integration of science and caring. It is so exciting to finally complete my certification and enter this honorable profession. I always knew I wanted to be in the healthcare field and when I discovered what it means to be a surgical technologist I knew right away in my heart that this was the right path for me.

    I look forward to traveling to the various conferences to network and meet fellow surgical technologists from across the country and to be part of the surgical family nationwide. My long-term goal is to become a specialized tech in trauma, and, ultimately, to be able to volunteer with Doctors Without Borders in emergency medical care to countries around the world.

  • $1,000

    Alyssa Schroeder

    Sponsored by the Foundation

    Moraine Park Technical College, Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin

    Thank you for this scholarship. This is my second year in the surgical technology program at Moraine Park Technical College. I know this is the right spot for me. I love going to class every day, and I love learning new instruments and procedures. My goal is to graduate in 2017 with a degree in surgical technology and then get a job at a major hospital such as Froedtert. The patient is putting his or her life in the hands of the surgeon and the rest of the OR team like myself, to help them, and I want to help every patient.

    I believe that when a person has to pay for something, it is more appreciated. My hard work reflects in all my classes, grades and test scores and GPA. I'm sure all of my professors who have had me as a student will agree that I work hard in all my classes to keep my grades up and keep working hard to get to where I am now. Thank you for this opportunity. This money will help further my education to attain my goal of helping others in the medical field.

  • $750

    Alexandra "Lexi" Czanstkowski

    Sponsored by the Foundation

    Rasmussen College St Cloud Campus, St Cloud, Minnesota

    I am currently attending Rasmussen College in St Cloud for surgical technology and loving every minute of it. I am set to graduate in September 2016.

    My first round of rotations has been amazing (shout out to the amazing Glencoe team!), and I look forward to my second rotation later this summer. Schooling has always been fascinating for me, and I enjoy learning and sharing my knowledge, but actually being out in the field has been eye opening. You can be taught about draping and passing instruments and the layout of the surgery room, but you never really fully understand those teachings until you are across the OR table from the surgeon with three other people in a very small space trying to hear the mumbles and anticipate their needs. While it can be challenging, especially as a student, it is an amazing profession and is quite satisfying when the surgeon asks for something and you already have it in your grasps. Clinicals is what I have enjoyed most so far, because it is hands-on and you get to learn the ropes and tricks of the trade, which betters you for the future.

    After graduation, I look forward to start working in the surgical tech field and gain as much experience as I can. In the future, I would like to work at a specialty hospital such as Children's or an orthopedic facility. Right now my future as a surgical technologist is a blank canvas, and I cannot wait to begin filling it in!

    Thank you very much for this scholarship. I truly appreciate the chance to brag about being rewarded this scholarship and will use it toward my schooling.

  • $750

    Brandi Ferron, CST

    Sponsored by the Foundation

    Jefferson College of Health Science, Roanoke, Virginia

    As I coasted through my college career, I wanted to major in something that would make a difference in someone else's life. I started out in a program of study that I did not have a passion for. When I learned that my college had a surgical technology program I was intrigued. I wanted to learn as much as I could about this profession because I thought it would be a perfect fit for me. I always wanted to work in an operating room even if it wasn't as the doctor that my grandmother always wanted me to be.

    After being accepted into the program, I realized that I had indeed made the right decision for me. In the beginning, I chose this career because I wanted to help other people and work in the operating room. Now that I have graduated and recently passed my certification I know that there is much more to what I do. I am first and foremost a patient advocate. It is not only my job but my pleasure to put each and every patient as the first priority and protect them as I have been trained to do. I want to make a difference in both the patient's life and within the profession. I chose this career to make a difference.

    I was recently hired at Roanoke Memorial, a Level 1 trauma center in Roanoke. My passion is orthopedics, and I will spend most of my time working in the ortho trauma and total joint services. Along with being a new hire, I am also still a student. I am in the process of completing my bachelor's degree in health sciences with a minor in public health at Jefferson College of Health Sciences. I plan to graduate in December. This fall, I will also be applying for the masters of health care administration program. I am a firm believer in furthering education, and I hope that these degrees will help me further my career as a Certified Surgical Technologist.

    I passed my national exam on May 4. I have been a Certified Surgical Technologist for a few months now, and I love my job! Every day I get to go to work and make a difference in someone's life. Not many people get to enjoy their job and improve the lives of others at the same time. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for me and my career as a surgical technologist.

  • $750

    Shauna Nason-Liberty

    Sponsored by the Georgia State Assembly

    Mt Diablo Adult Education, Concord, California

    First, I would like to send my extreme gratitude and appreciation for selecting me to be a winner of the $750 scholarship from the AST Foundation. It is an amazing honor.

    I chose surgical technology as a career because I genuinely care about and love to help people. I have always dreamt of having a career in the healthcare profession. I am currently a student and am looking forward to my graduation on August 12. I am extremely excited to begin my new career in this amazing field. I have enjoyed my entire curriculum, and though I must state that I found school and classes to be the easier portion for me, I have certainly found clinical externship the most fulfilling and rewarding.

    I am in love. To be out in the field and test my knowledge and skills, and having a hand in the OR, helping my team as well as the patient is truly the most rewarding thing I have done since I raised my children. I am so excited and thrilled to become a certified tech and actually work in the field. I can't wait to have the chance to be a productive member of such an important team, have an impact on the world of healthcare, and, most importantly, on the lives of the patients.

    Again, I cannot thank you enough for this opportunity. This will enable me financially to finish off the cost of my schooling. This is a huge blessing to me and my family, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  • $750

    Kesla Pastine

    Sponsored by the Foundation

    Concord Career College, Dallas, Texas

    Being a surgical technologist is not only convincing with exciting procedures or surprising outcomes, but it is rather promising to hands-on patient care in the OR.

    I chose surgical technology as my initiation to look forward to furthering my career as a physician. I plan to take on the surgical technologist role to learn, retain and apply my knowledge and skills for patient care while assisting the surgeon to the best of my abilities with a surgical conscience.

    In the future, I intend to take my expertise training and practice to the next level furthering my education in becoming a physician where I can personally treat, diagnose and perform necessary practices for my patients.

    The best part about being a surgical technologist, in my opinion, would be having that direct patient care and knowing you are making a difference in another individual's life. In surgery, I enjoy seeing invasive procedures during surgeries in a trauma center. I have been a surgical technologist student for almost a year, with graduation upcoming. I enjoyed studying anatomy and physiology the most because I now feel I have a foundation of understanding the human body. I am looking forward to the start of my new journey as a surgical technologist so I can be the one making a difference in patient's lives.

  • $750

    Michelle Terrill

    Sponsored by the Foundation

    Eastern Maine Community College, Bangor, Maine

    I am currently a student in the surgical technology field and will be graduating this December. I chose this career because a wonderful opportunity came from tragedy. After losing my job of 16 years, I was able to choose what I wanted to do. The medical field had always fascinated me so surgical technology was a natural choice.

    After graduation, I would like to specialize in cardiac. Watching the cardiac team and how well they all work together is the exact thing that I would like to be a part of. Completing the first day of being scrubbed in, I was so happy, and relieved, to know that I had made the perfect career choice for myself.

    My instructors (Sandra Merrifield, CST; and Tisha Clark, CST) have been nothing but supportive and inspiring for our class. A year and a half ago I never thought that I would be able to do this, and now I feel so fortunate for everything that has happened to put me right where I am and where I am supposed to be.

  • $750

    Nhung Tran, CST

    Sponsored by the Foundation

    Wichita Area Technical College, Wichita, Kansas

    I am very excited to be the recipient of the scholarship sponsored by the NBSTSA and AST. I graduated from the surgical technology program at Wichita Area Technical College with an Associate of Science degree in late June.

    I already had received and accepted a job offer. After I complete school, I am looking forward to being in the operating room, assisting the surgeons and nurses in providing excellent patient care and fulfilling my dreams of becoming a surgical technologist. Thank you very much for awarding me this scholarship. I truly appreciate it.

    I also want to take a moment to thank my program director and instructor, Logan Threet, CST. He has been an inspiration throughout my time in this beloved program. He is a wonderful and dedicated instructor. He shared his knowledge and passion for surgical technology with me, which motivated me to excel in the classroom and clinical settings. In our short time together, I have learned so much from him. So, thank you, Logan, for being there to encourage me to pursue my dreams.

  • $750

    Bryan Tessanne

    Sponsored by the Foundation

    Brown-Mackie College, North Canton, Ohio

    I chose to pursue a career as a surgical technologist because I have always found the surgical field to be an interesting and integral part of the healthcare field. I have seen many sides of patient care, from working in patient transport to working as a combat medic in the United States Air Force. I know that with the advancements in technology there will always be something new and exciting for me to learn in this field.

    I graduated at the end of July, and the lab experiences with my classmates will be unforgettable. They are truly what made my studies most enjoyable, full of laughter and friendship.

    My current plan is to secure a position as a CST with my current employer, Mercy Medical Center. Furthermore, I plan to go back to school to pursue a degree in physician's assistant studies where I believe my surgical tech background will help my marketability. I would like to thank all of my teachers at Brown Mackie for their support and efforts in helping me achieve my goals.

    I would also like to thank my family, my loving girlfriend and her family for being my backbone through all of this, as well as my beautiful daughter, Arianna, for motivating me. I couldn't have done it without all of you!

  • $750

    Kyle Vandonkelaar

    Sponsored by the Foundation

    Baker College, Muskegon, Michigan

    I chose to become a surgical technologist because I am fascinated with how the human body works, and I love the idea of being a part of a team that helps other people when they are weak or in pain.

    My current plans involve completing my second clinical rotation, and then hopefully obtaining full-time employment by the time my rotation is complete. My future plans include obtaining certification as a CSFA, and getting an RN. I want to expand my scope of practice in order to continue learning about surgery.

    My personal experience in my first clinical rotation has been overwhelmingly positive. The staff has been very friendly and excels at creating a fantastic learning environment. The best part of surgery is having a positive impact on people's lives. What I most enjoy about being in surgery is that it's never the same; there is always something new to learn.

    I am scheduled to graduate at the end of August. I have been awarded the Baker College Health Science Award for excellence in the field of health sciences. The part of my studies that I most enjoyed was learning through the clinical experience. I also really enjoyed teaching students anatomy, physiology and microbiology as a student tutor.

  • $500

    Tiana Bohrer

    Sponsored by the Foundation

    Cape Coral Technical College, Cape Coral, Florida

    I am currently a student of the surgical technologist program at Cape Coral Technical College in Cape Coral, Florida. I am honored to receive this scholarship, and I just recently started the clinical portion and have found it to be very rewarding and more interesting than I imagined. Every day is something new and different, and it is a continuous learning process, which I enjoy. My favorite part is that I can play a hands-on role in other's healthcare and, ultimately, in their surgical procedures. I have done a few pediatric cases, which really makes it special. I have done several general cases, but am looking forward mostly to the OBGYN cases.

    I knew I wanted to be in the medical field since my grandmother had a heart attack when I was very young. I had joined the Air Force as a medic and had planned to go onto to PA school after active duty. I then learned more about surgical technology and the options of surgical assisting and was eager to have a hands-on role in the surgical field.

    I plan on graduating in December, and after gaining employment locally, I would like to expand and continue my education with surgical assisting school. I also plan to utilize my knowledge and skills to help those in underprivileged areas by partnering with missions and outreach organizations. The best part about being a surgical technologist so far is giving to others when they are in need.

  • $500

    Daniel Jo Boisselle

    Sponsored by the Foundation

    Yakima Valley Commmunity College, Yakima, Washington

    I will be finished with school August 4.

    I have enjoyed my clinical rounds because I get hands-on experience and I am able to learn better that way.

    I am looking forward to finally having time to go camping with my family! I have been working seven days a week between school and my full-time job for the last year.

  • $500

    Kirsten Brown

    Sponsored by the Foundation

    Milwaukee Career College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    I attend Milwaukee Career College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and I chose surgical technology because there's just something about the operating room - and being in complete focus with an insane adrenaline rush - that intrigues me. I've always wanted to work in the healthcare field, and when I started this program I instantly knew this was my calling.

    My future plans are to graduate in March, and hopefully get hired at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. I've really enjoyed my program here at Milwaukee Career College, making great friends and learning from awesome instructors.

  • $500

    Caitlin Cunningham, CST

    Sponsored by the North Carolina State Assembly

    Carolinas College of Health Sciences, Charlotte, North Carolina

    I first became fascinated with the human body as a young girl. My father was a chiropractor and loved to educate me about anatomy and the wellbeing and proper care of our bodies. I was intrigued and knew I wanted a career in healthcare, but desired to more about the human body and how it works.

    I started my career path in 2007 by becoming a licensed esthetician. After spending years of caring for others, I decided to pursue a medical pathway of continuing my education. In 2010, I earned my associate degree in medical assisting and soon after obtained a position with Criswell and Criswell Plastic Surgery in Charlotte. I gained an abundance of knowledge and experience from both Dr Bryan and Kara Criswell and desired to pursue my dreams of being more involved in surgery and become a surgical technologist. Early this May, I received my diploma in surgical technology with honors from Carolinas College of Health Sciences and became a Certified Surgical Technologist through the NBSTSA.

    I have enjoyed many experiences in surgery during my clinical rotations while in the program, but continued to love the art of plastics. After graduating, my husband and I moved to Raleigh where I have returned to plastics, working for Davis and Pyle Plastic Surgery. Being an essential part of the procedure grants me the opportunity to make a patient feel whole again, emotionally and physically. Being a surgical technologist is incredibly rewarding, and I look forward to a long career with Dr Davis and Dr Pyle by helping others to not only look beautiful, but to feel beautiful as well.

  • $500

    Danielle Davis, CST

    Sponsored by the South Carolina State Assembly

    Florence Darlington Technical College, Florence, South Carolina

    I am a 2016 graduate of Florence Darlington Technical College majoring in surgical technology. Ultimately, what I love about being a surgical technologist is that every day is a new challenge and a life-changing experience.

    Currently, ENT and general are my favorite specialties, and I would like to specialize in ENT. My long-term goal is to become an employee at Duke University Hospital, and during the summer, I would like to be a traveling surgical technologist.

  • $500

    Aliza Jones

    Sponsored by the Foundation

    Virginia College of Biloxi, Biloxi, Mississippi

    First of all, I would like to start off by saying that whatever you set your mind, and heart to, you can very well achieve. I am so very grateful for this award. I am getting ready to graduate in less than a month. This has been an incredible journey. Just being a part of the healthcare field was enough for me, but becoming a surgical tech has been a long-time dream come true. I remember it all started with my television addiction to the show, House. I knew then I wanted to be a part of an important team.

    Words cannot describe how worthy this experience has been. I have come to find out that this is clearly the career and life for me. I am so thrilled to be a part of such an honorable, respectable and rewarding occupation. I can finally say that I am in the right place. We are such a reputable community, growing and keeping strong.

    I am looking forward to supporting my family with a steady income, and also looking to gaining some experience so I can get back to continuing my education by becoming a Certified First Assistant. I am proud to say we surgical techs are a powerful bunch, and every day we wake up to join the group of our other fellow hardworking healthcare workers to make a difference, one life at a time.

  • $500

    Kaitlin Weichenthal

    Sponsored by the Foundation

    Finger Lakes College of Nursing, Geneva, New York

    I chose to pursue a career as a surgical technologist because I have always found the surgical field to be an interesting and integral part of the healthcare field. I have seen many sides of patient care, from working in patient transport to working as a combat medic in the United States Air Force. I know that with the advancements in technology there will always be something new and exciting for me to learn in this field.

    I graduated at the end of July, and the lab experiences with my classmates will be unforgettable. They are truly what made my studies most enjoyable, full of laughter and friendship.

    My current plan is to secure a position as a CST with my current employer, Mercy Medical Center. Furthermore, I plan to go back to school to pursue a degree in physician's assistant studies where I believe my surgical tech background will help my marketability.

    I would like to thank all of my teachers at Brown Mackie for their support and efforts in helping me achieve my goals. I would also like to thank my family, my loving girlfriend and her family for being my backbone through all of this, as well as my beautiful daughter, Arianna, for motivating me. I couldn't have done it without all of you!