Courtney Smith set out on her college journey knowing she wanted to work with children, but it wasn’t until she returned to St. Clair County Community College that she found a way to turn her passion into a fulfilling career.
Smith, a resident of Kimball Township and a graduate of Port Huron Northern, said after high school she went away to Grand Valley State University for about a year and then transferred to Central Michigan University for six months.
“I wanted to get out of town, so I went away and I wish I hadn’t because now I have so many student loans from these big colleges. It is all from taking classes that I could have taken at SC4.” Smith said. “Once I came home and completed my associate degree in general education I started narrowing down what I liked and I really started to pay attention to what I had in front of me and realized how many degrees are available at SC4, so I ended up staying.”
She attended SC4 from 2009 until 2015 and earned degrees in general education and radiologic technology, and is two classes away from a degree in early childhood education. This past summer, she began her job as a radiographer at Children's Hospital of Detroit.
Smith said she has always had a passion for helping children and during her time at SC4 began working at McLaren Hospital of Port Huron as a nurse aide on the pediatric unit. She liked working at the hospital and loved working with children but felt being a nurse was not for her. It was then a family friend began talking to her about radiologic technology, a program recently reintroduced to SC4.
“Radiologic technology sounded so interesting to me," she said. "And I knew after completing the two-year program I would come away with a good job, a good income and good insurance, and I knew I could support myself without needing any outside assistance."
Smith said she applied to the rad tech program twice and it was on the second try that she was accepted. She graduated in June of 2015 as part of the programs second graduating class.
“The program was challenging and you put in so much effort and do so much work and at the time you question why they are pushing you to your limit," Smith said. "But walking in as a new hire at a big hospital I am finding they put the same pressures on you and everyone here is shocked because a lot of them haven’t heard of SC4 but they are blown away by how prepared I am.”
Smith said she loves her job, especially because she is able to work in all parts of the hospital using X-rays to help in the diagnosis of different illness and conditions within children.
“There is a lot more to it than just taking pictures, we inject contrast to see organ functions and we are in operating rooms making sure hip and knee replacements are in the right places. With X-rays we can give people confirmation and they can leave here with answers and it’s cool I get to be a part of that.”
Now that Smith has found a career she is passionate about her advice to students is: “You don’t have to know the end result or what you want to be but you have to start somewhere. Take some general education classes and go out and job shadow different careers. Research what the education level is, what it entails and will do for you and just find yourself as you’re going. I didn’t know and I wish I had taken the time to step back and figure it out.”