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Forest Park Campus

Radiologic Tech student discovers American dream

Ekaterina Leshkova

When Ekaterina “Kate” Leshkova arrived here from Bulgaria nine years ago, all she had was a dream about the opportunities in America. This summer, she will graduate and become a radiologic technologist. Her 33rd birthday just happens to be the same day as graduation – July 15. “It was the greatest decision I ever made in my life, to become a radiologic tech,” she said. “This is a great program here. I recommend it.”

But those two momentous occasions aren’t her only milestones this summer. She has been chosen to participate in the American Society of Radiologic Technologists 2011 Student Initiative Program. She was one of 62 radiologic science students chosen from around the country from more than 180 essays submitted. As a participant, Leshkova will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the ASRT Educational Symposium and Annual Governance and House of Delegates Meeting June 16-19, in Albuquerque, N. M.

Additionally, Leshkova will attend an educational program at the symposium specifically designed for students and be assigned a professional mentor during the House of Delegates meeting. This is the first time a Forest Park student has entered this contest, let alone won it, noted Vincent Featherson, department chair of health technologies, and the program director and a professor in radiologic tech.

Students who entered the “Welcome to Your Future” essay competition were required to write a 500- to 700-word essay on one of three topics. The essays were evaluated on several factors, including the author’s commitment to pursuing a career in the radiologic sciences. “I wrote about my own experiences with radiology,” she said. Her mother was a nurse, and she wanted to follow her footsteps into health care, but in a different area.

As a young girl, she had X-rays taken during several illnesses, for tests and procedures, and to diagnose fractured bones. “I want to be part of the helping source for patients, to make a difference in people’s lives,” Leshkova said. “I saw the caring, compassion and kindness they had for patients.”

Leshkova has been doing clinical work at Missouri Baptist Hospital to fulfill requirements for graduation. “It’s a wonderful place to be, as a patient and a worker,” she said.

In 2002, she came to America with her husband Angel and then-4-year-old son Georgi "because of the opportunity we could have here,” she said. Angel’s cousin Ivan Lechkov, and his wife Eugenia, met them in St. Louis, where they lived. “They gave us the best start we could ever have,” she said.

She is grateful to receive a community college education, although it hasn’t been easy to juggle school and family. “My husband and son (now 13) have really been supportive of me being in school,” she said. Leshkova and her family live in Maryland Heights.

No one makes it on their own, and Kate wanted to praise her ‘best American friend’ Dolores Lococo, whom she met seven years ago when they worked at a local grocery store together. “She has been helping me so much in very difficult moments,” she said.

Leshkova didn’t speak any English when she arrived in this country. She credits instructor Janet Morey at STLCC-Meramec for help with English as Second Language classes that made such a difference, as well as the radiologic science faculty at STLCC-Forest Park.

“My teachers have been very supportive, patient, always make them self available via e-mail or office hours for my hundred questions,” she said. “Very encouraging at school and clinical sites. They wanted us to succeed by being tough, especially in the beginning of the program. They have excellent teaching techniques and I probably would not have gotten far without them.”

By: Lynn Venhaus