NEWARK, Ohio, May 30, 2018 — Erin Van Pelt always wanted to be a mom, but she was not as sure about her education or her career. As she prepared to take on that role, her turbulent experience roused an interest in diagnostic medical sonography. On May 4, Van Pelt graduated with honors from Central Ohio Technical College (COTC).
Van Pelt's journey to motherhood was not easy. Her surprise when the ultrasound revealed identical twin boys was quickly repressed when it also revealed complications. The next few months were filled with more ultrasounds.
"We looked at that ultrasound screen and made the decision to have surgery to hopefully help our babies. We looked at that ultrasound screen after the surgery and were devastated that there was only one heartbeat. We continued to look at the ultrasound screen to discover that our surviving baby had a heart defect, as well as a lung defect," she described.
Despite the devastation that ultrasound screen revealed, it also saved the life of "baby A" who is now named Carter. When Van Pelt became pregnant a second time, the ultrasound revealed a healthy baby boy. All that time spent looking at ultrasound screens – both the highs and the lows – guided Van Pelt to a career in sonography.
She did not pursue it right away. Van Pelt spent five years as a stay-at-home mom, working in the restaurant business to make ends meet until both boys were in school. When the time came, Van Pelt applied to COTC and was ecstatic when she was accepted to the diagnostic medical sonography technology program.
"I'm not going to lie; the past two years have not been easy. I spent it trying to balance a busy family life with the rigorous curriculum," said Van Pelt. "You could find me making notecards in the lobby of taekwondo and basketball practice, staying up late and waking up early to study."
The hard work paid off. Van Pelt addressed the crowd of more than 1,000 prior to receiving her associate degree at COTC's spring commencement ceremony. She told them about the opportunity for a clinical rotation at Nationwide Children's Hospital for which she eagerly applied, was accepted and began in January. Furthermore, she was offered a job there starting next month.
"The very place that provided many of the ultrasounds for my son's heart, and his surgery to repair his heart defect, is the very place I will now be working," she said.
Van Pelt's full commencement address can be seen at https://youtu.be/lEf2iFDBuZg?t=23m26s.
COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.