Before this weekend’s Commencement activities, graduating students from the College of Allied Health Sciences share their memories of UC and hopes for the future.
La Donna Morales
At the master’s and doctoral hooding ceremony Friday, April 25, La Donna Morales will add another University of Cincinnati degree to her name—having received her associate’s, bachelor’s and now Master of Social Work degree from UC.
"I now realize that my passion is helping others with complex medical issues and their caregivers,” she says. "I have a desire to help educate patients and families regarding their rights and responsibilities with services for the special needs population. I want to equip patients with the information that directly enhances their quality of life.”
Morales completed her master’s program while balancing her full-time job as training coordinator for the state of Ohio and raising four children (one with complex medical needs) with her husband. Looking back, she says her degree was not an easy process but a well-traveled journey.
"There is an old saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’” she says. "I believe that the symbolic concept of a village encompasses the family members, friends, college professors, advisors and field instructors … anyone who has helped in the educational raising process. It is because of my support system that I can truly say, ‘I made it!’”
Graduating Dietetics major Emily Krumel will be capping off a busy, busy week at Saturday’s undergraduate commencement ceremonies.
On Monday, April 21, she joined her fellow members of the UC Running Club in Boston to run the Boston Marathon for the first time. After joining the club in sophomore year, she has spent the last two years as the club’s vice president. She credits the club’s help and support with her first two marathons at the Cincinnati Flying Pig.
Of her decision to run at Boston, Krumel says at first she just wanted to qualify—but the run took on a greater meaning after some of her friends were in the marathon last year during the bombing.
"Even if I don’t be make my best time or meet my goal, it’s rewarding just to be in Boston and be a part of that community for the day,” she says. "Their community is so strong.”
Krumel will say goodbye to another student group this spring, the group of pre-nursing students she’s led as a peer leader.
"I had a great experience with my learning community in college,” she says. "I had a core group of people in all my classes and saw the majority of them throughout my four years here. Leading the pre-nursing students has been interesting because I’m not in that field. But it’s been so rewarding to see them in the beginning of the year, and see how much they’ve changed in just these two semesters. Hopefully they stick together like my learning community did!”
About to graduate with a master’s degree in Health Administration, student Ryan Loudermilk says he entered graduate education with some nerves.
"After working in my career in radiation therapy for 10 years, I decided I was looking for something more to advance my career,” he remembers. "I was scared about doing this, because at the time I started my first son was only 2 years old.”
"With the support of my amazing wife, Michelle, I have strived through classes very well, and we even had our second child at the beginning of my final semester,” he says. "I never thought I would be able to get a master's degree, but with the support of my family I am achieving that goal.”
Getting ready for her graduation, Breonna Simmons notes that "statistically, I was not supposed to have come this far.”
As an African-American, first generation college student from a low socioeconomic background, Simmons says that in her youth, "drugs, teenage pregnancies, and high school dropouts outweighed graduations and the establishment of fulfilling careers.”
Simmons says her varied experiences at UC taught her compassion and leadership and inspired her to continue her education. She has studied abroad in Belmopan, Belize, become president of her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, and been awarded a McNair scholarship
to support her graduate education.
This spring, Simmons will receive her bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders, and says her major has taught her the importance of advocacy and patience. She credits the many faculty and staff in the department with playing a significant role in her outcome.
"Because of the leadership that I observed and the mentorship that I encountered, I now know exactly what kind of woman I am," she says. "I am not my background, I possess an education that no one can ever take from me, and I am fearless. I am ready for whatever obstacles the world throws my way because I have been prepared to demolish them. Thank you UC!”