Histologists spend every day serving their patients, but many of our histologists now in the civilian world of clinical hospitals, started their careers serving in the United States Armed Forces. This Memorial Day, we honor all of our fallen service men and women and celebrate those still with us in our own histology labs.
Being a former member of the Armed Forces is a true honor. I came from a family that could not afford to pay for school for me. When my scholarship money dried up, I felt completely hopeless. I had several friends that had gone into the military for the same reason, so I signed up initially for the National Guard. I enjoyed the structured environment so much, I decided to enlist. I left my home in Georgia for Ft. Hood, Texas. There, I was a medic for the Patriot Missile Battalion. I spent most of my time in the Army working at the troop medical clinic and on the ambulances. Toward the end of my enlistment, my unit was sent to Saudi Arabia. I was stationed in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia for six months. That tour was enough to convince me that I no longer wished to stay in the Army. While I learned a tremendous amount about myself and life while I was enlisted, I knew I did not want to live that life forever. I exited the service, and I got a job as a phlebotomist. This eventually led to a job in a hospital laboratory as a clinical lab assistant. From there, I moved back to histology, and worked through the Harford Community College online program to become a histology technician. I love what we do, and I feel like I never would have made it to this career had I not served time as a medic in the Army.
Thanks to everyone who has every served as it truly is a significant sacrifice.
Histology was never my first choice for a career. In fact, I never even knew what histology was until I had to review a list of college classes when I was told my military career was about to end. I joined the Marine Corps in 2013 right out of high school. My only plan was to serve my country with honor as long as I was able to. I went through all my training and ended up at Camp Lejeune and decided my next goal was to reach the rank of Sergeant before my first contract was up. However my body had other plans; I found out after months of tests and doctor visits that I had degenerative disk disease and my lower back was going fast. I had to make a choice of either staying in until I couldn’t physically handle day to day activities or get out now to enjoy a limited active life with my family. I chose the latter and decided that college was my next objective.
I’ve been to at least five different colleges in the pursuit of my educational goals. It turns out that there are not many histology programs to choose from. When I first learned about histology, I initially thought it was a historian science of some kind, however I knew I had to have this job. I absolutely love the mixture of anatomy and chemistry and every weekend I honestly say ‘I can’t wait to get back to work!’ But obtaining the Associates of Science was not the easiest thing to do; I switched to three colleges before finally getting my degree in Histotechnology at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. This program was amazing and helped me achieve my goals to becoming a Histotechnician. I like to think my short time in the Marines helped me get this mindset of setting and passing goals, constantly improving myself. And I’d like to thank everyone who has served before me for standing up for my freedom to do so and especially remember those who gave their all for it.
Listen to Dave Davis, last year’s winner of the Lee Luna Foreign Travel Scholarship, talk about how he got his start in histology through the military while stationed at the Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in 1984.