Through the ASRT Foundation, the Elekta Radiation Therapy Scholarship helps deserving students fund their education
Elekta selected six students to receive the company’s 2021-2022 Elekta Radiation Therapy Scholarship, a grant to help them pursue a career as a radiation therapist. The winners are Prince Asamoah, Anya Burke, Calista Johnson, Lydia LaCost, Keena St Louis, and Kelly Thai.
Prince Asamoah – A goal to improve the lives of people with cancer
Already a junior in the radiation therapy program at Nassau Community College, Prince Asamoah has just one semester to go before seeking employment as a licensed radiation therapist.
“I want to work at a healthcare facility where my knowledge and skills will be utilized to provide the highest quality care to cancer patients,” Prince says. “My goal is to improve their lives by helping them through this journey with precision and compassion. I also plan to get involved with the ASRT organization and contribute to the community with my knowledge and experience in the field of radiation therapy.
“I want to express my deepest gratitude to Elekta for the scholarship funds,” he adds. “It is because of this generosity that I am able to focus on my studies and lighten my financial burden for the upcoming academic semester.”
Anya Burke – Grenadian immigrant realizes her lifelong dream
At age 12, Anya Burke and her family emigrated to the United States from Grenada in search of better opportunities. Educational prospects abound in the USA, but most are not inexpensive and even fewer are free.
“My mother and grandmother have worked hard since they have been here to provide for our household,” Anya says. “They did their best to help support me in my undergraduate education at Stony Brook University and I have worked throughout high school and college to care for myself. But even with my savings all those years, I had to take out student loans.”
Receiving the $5,000 Elekta Radiation Therapy Scholarship has lifted a substantial burden from both Anya’s and her family’s shoulders.
“This scholarship will help me close the financial gap and take out less in student loans to complete my radiation therapy education.”
“This scholarship will help me close the financial gap and take out less in student loans to complete my radiation therapy education,” she says. “The funds will allow me to continue down this path, to eventually support my community and the people of my country – all without incurring additional debt.”
On June 1, Anya became a student at the Center for Radiation Therapy Education at Mount Sinai.
Calista Johnson – A deep, personal commitment to the oncology field
The compassion and support oncology care teams show for their patients can mean all the difference for someone enduring the rigors of cancer treatment. Calista Johnson, a radiation therapy student at Virginia Commonwealth University, discovered just how important this was for her uncle Bill, who battled two different cancers over five years.
“In 2018, our family threw a ‘Happy Remission’ party for my uncle as he had beaten Ewing’s sarcoma,” Calista recalls. “My uncle expressed how much his oncology care team cared for and about him and his family, and I said to myself: ‘Wow! I need to be this person for someone else.’
I was able to tell him in August 2018 that he was the one who inspired me to pursue radiation therapy and he told me: ‘Love it! Kill cancer!’”
Sadly, Calista’s uncle relapsed with a tMDS cancer in 2019, and – despite extensive treatment efforts – in December 2020 was nearing death.
“While I’m devastated he doesn’t get to see me graduate and become a licensed radiation therapist, I know he is smiling and cheering me on as I am awarded this amazing scholarship to help me become who I am meant to be.”
“I told him how proud I was of him and thanked him again for inspiring me to follow the career I have now chosen,” she says. “While I’m devastated he doesn’t get to see me graduate and become a licensed radiation therapist, I know he is smiling and cheering me on as I am awarded this amazing scholarship to help me become who I am meant to be. He is my ‘why” and I strive to treat every patient I meet with the same love and support my uncle Bill had.”
Calista will complete her radiation therapy studies in May 2022.
Lydia LaCost – Paying it forward in the Wisconsin countryside
This spring, Lydia LaCost headed to Park Ridge, Illinois, for a year-long radiation therapy internship, having completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse in her home state.
Affording tuition for higher education has been a challenge for Lydia due to her parents’ recent health issues and their financial obligations.
“At one point, I was working two jobs to compensate,” she says. “The Elekta Radiation Therapy Scholarship eliminates a large financial burden for me. Now, I will be able to afford over a semester’s worth of tuition at my institution.”
After her radiation therapy internship, Lydia wants to enter the workforce as a radiation therapist and provide care in rural Wisconsin.
“I eventually would like to work to reduce the healthcare disparity in that part of the state, though I do not know how yet,” Lydia says. “This generous scholarship makes this future, with an abundance of options, possible.”
Keena St Louis – Navy veteran gets a deserved boost
Keena St Louis
After serving her country in the Navy, in August 2020, Keena St Louis suddenly became a civilian – not as simple a task as one might think, especially last year.
“I was concerned about it, both because of the pandemic, as well as the uncertainty in the job market,” Keena says. “The Navy has been the only job I’ve ever known, so the transition to civilian life was already a culture shock for me. This was magnified due to the pandemic as it caused many unexpected issues with discontinued classes, as well as deadlines for parking passes, drug tests, food passes, and uniforms.”
Having no family in Virginia while adapting to this new environment added to the stress of Keena’s transition, as the costs to attend Virginia Commonwealth University full-time were mounting.
“Also, with everyone returning for in-person classes, I was worried about how I would be able to afford the travel fees to the various clinical sites,” she says. “The Elekta Radiation Therapy Scholarship has been timely in alleviating many of the financial stresses that have impacted me. Now, I’ll be able to focus on my education instead of how to afford it.”
Kelly Thai – A financial windfall in times of trouble
The aphorism “money’s not everything” is true most of the time, but sometimes it’s the best thing, according to students struggling to finance their higher education.
“I had been grasping to find a way to fund my last year of schooling at Texas State University in which I am a part of the Radiation Therapy Program and the Elekta Radiation Therapy Scholarship gave me a light at the end of the tunnel.”
“I had been grasping to find a way to fund my last year of schooling at Texas State University in which I am a part of the Radiation Therapy Program and the Elekta Radiation Therapy Scholarship gave me a light at the end of the tunnel,” says Kelly Thai. “I was going through a rough patch with my family and my grades started to suffer – and my financial burden atop all of that had caused my mental health to decline as well.”
Kelly adds that she had no way to pay for the help that she needed and felt guilty spending money she didn’t have to try to see someone or pay for medication.
“Now that I have received the scholarship, I feel less guilty about trying to take care of myself and I feel a lot less pressure about my financial status,” she says. “The funds I received have had a great impact on my life and my current situation.”
Elekta funds new scholarship opportunities for Black radiation therapy students
Both Anya Burke and Prince Asamoah are the first beneficiaries of a new ASRT Foundation/Elekta program to improve diversity, inclusion and representation in the healthcare industry. Starting in 2021-2022 and proceeding annually, two Black radiation therapy students will receive $5,000 each to support their educational expenses.
“Elekta is, and has always been, absolutely committed to equality and fairness in our industry, and we will continue to listen, learn and further educate ourselves to be an ally for future generations of healthcare professionals.”
“Elekta is, and has always been, absolutely committed to equality and fairness in our industry, and we will continue to listen, learn and further educate ourselves to be an ally for future generations of healthcare professionals,” says Larry Biscotti, Elekta’s Executive Vice President, Region Americas. “Elekta strives for workplace diversity not only in the United States, but around the world. We are proud to be a part of this noble effort.”
About the Elekta Radiation Therapy Scholarship
The Elekta Radiation Therapy Scholarship was established to help the best and brightest students afford their radiation therapy programs. Elekta cares deeply about the oncology profession and is a passionate supporter of radiation therapists.
In recognition of the importance of improving diversity, inclusion and representation in the health care industry, at least two of these six scholarships will be awarded to Black students each year.
To apply for scholarships, visit here.