Kacper Waskiewicz did not start out pursuing an education in a medical field.
In his native Queens, N.Y., Waskiewicz grew up playing music, stage acting and excelling on the soccer field. He stayed there to finish high school while his parents resided in the Lehigh Valley, and he was recruited to play soccer at a local college until the cost of his education derailed his plans. By the end of 2008, he found himself in Pennysylvania pursing a job at Brookmont Healthcare Center while he took a semester off to figure out his next step.
"My mom is an NCC nursing graduate. In the spring of 2009, I started here with just general education classes. By the fall, I thought that maybe I should start looking into another major," explained Waskiewicz. "I saw a few counselors and because I was working in a nursing home, I thought the health field was something to look into. It didn't have anything to do with being passionate about it because I didn't know anything about it."
Waskiewicz spent most of 2010 finishing all of the course prerequisites, so that when he finally applied for the program, he knew he would be able to jump right into the core classes. In early 2011, he had the opportunity to shadow radiographer Mike DeSantis at Lehigh Valley Hospital's Cedar Crest campus. The four-hour experience left Waskiewicz with as many questions as answers.
"It wasn't what I was expected. I was following him and wondering, 'What is he looking at? What is he talking about?' He asked me questions about why I wanted to get into sonography," Waskiewicz recalled. "As soon as that was over, I did more research about sonography…the rewards, the pros, the cons. I wanted as much information as I could possibly get."
Soon after, Waskiewicz interviewed for the program at NCC, keeping in the back of his mind that he could make alternate plans back in New York if things didn't work out. He received his acceptance letter into the program a month later, and hasn't looked back since.
"In that first semester, we were thrown on the machines and told to just start scanning. In retrospect it's a good thing that they just throw us in there. That happens at the hospital, when you get thrown into things you don't expect," said Waskiewicz. "I feel that's the best way to learn."
Waskiewicz is aware of the stereotype that surrounds the sonography profession – that it's mostly used for ultrasounds of pregnant women – but points out that students also work with general sonography of the abdomen, greater vessels, and of small and superficial parts as well as OB/GYN.
"At the hospitals, you have a reputation to uphold and an impression to make," says Waskiewicz, who plans on continuing his education in New York following his graduation from NCC. "Every day on clinical is a job interview. I definitely want to continue with my education and don't want to stop at just one degree."
Name: Kacper Waskiewicz
Major: Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Projected Graduation: 2013