COTC radiologic science technology alumna Mara Weber made her own path.
NEWARK, Ohio, October 28, 2020 – Mara Weber began a traditional four-year degree at The Ohio State University at Newark but realized it wasn't the right path for her. She wanted to get a degree quicker allowing her to get into the healthcare setting and begin making a difference. Being at Ohio State Newark, the co-located campus of Central Ohio Technical College (COTC), gave her an advantage.
"One of my professors at Ohio State Newark knew Ken Ollish in the radiologic science technology program at COTC. He got me in touch, and I made the decision to change my direction," said Weber. "I wanted a career I could build on rather than being in classes."
The COTC radiologic science technology program is a two-year, five semester program that combines extensive classroom, laboratory and clinical learning situations to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to safely practice radiology.
"I never expected the level of professional growth in a two-year program," she said. "It was a major foundation for my career as a medical professional and gave me confidence. This program pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me realize what great things were out there for me. The professors and instructors cared about all of us and encouraged us at all times."
Weber was assigned to Grant Medical Center as her first-year clinical site. She voiced concern to her faculty about the assignment and a desire to be assigned to a smaller facility close to her home. Both Ken Ollish, associate professor and program director of radiologic science technology, and instructor Lin Hopewell reassured Weber that the facility was the perfect fit for her and she could handle it.
"Mara was a standout student in our program. She always had a thirst for knowledge and possessed excellent clinical skills. Mara displayed excellent interpersonal skills both with her classmates, faculty and clinical staff," said Ollish.
Despite her anxiety, Weber trusted them and agreed to go through with the clinical assignment which was more beneficial than she could have predicted.
"The first day there I was scared to death driving into Columbus, extremely unsure of what situation I was placed into. The clinical exposure and learning I received there led me to the next step in my career. As a student tech aide there, I learned I loved CT (computed tomography) and became a CT technologist there upon graduation." said Weber. "I owe a lot to the experience; it was hard the first week or two but the years I spent there shaped me into who I am."
She also met her husband through a blind date set up by a Grant Medical Center employee.
While Weber was working as a CT technologist, a radiologist colleague brought her into the Stroke Accreditation Project exposing her to the clinical pharmacy in the hospital. This was just what she needed to determine her next step of her career. Both the radiologist and Hopewell helped Weber attain her non-traditional bachelor's degree in radiology. She began her bachelor's degree at Ohio State Newark because of her fondness for the campus and strong connections to the faculty and completed it at the Columbus campus of Ohio State. They also helped prepare her for pharmacy school.
She received her Doctor of Pharmacy from Ohio State in 2012 and now works as a medication safety and antimicrobial pharmacist at Ohio Health's O'Bleness Hospital in Athens, Ohio.
"I am very passionate about safety and quality assurance. I attribute this to what I was taught early in the radiology program," said Weber. "The professors always preached safety throughout the curriculum and how we should serve as advocates for our patients."
She makes a difference through her career and community service. Weber continues to contribute to the field of radiology through involvement with the Ohio Society of Radiologic Technologists. She was a judge for a local high school's senior projects allowing her to mentor students about college. Weber has also been the advocacy chair and central Ohio chapter coordinator for the Central Ohio Polycystic Kidney Foundation, an organization close to her heart because of a family connection.
In 2019, Weber received the Ohio State Newark Distinguished Alumni Award for her contributions to the field of pharmacy and radiologic science and the community.
Her experiences have given her some wisdom she likes to share. "Be open and curious to everything around you. You have so many opportunities, capitalize on them," noted Weber. "Every challenge can be an opportunity to learn and grow; it is how you look at it."
Photo caption: COTC Alumna Mara Weber stands in the pharmacy at Ohio Health's O'Bleness Hospital.
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.