Dream Award Helps Relieve Stress on Sydney Koirth, Student and Mom - Scholarship America

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Dream Award Helps Relieve Stress on Sydney Koirth, Student and Mom

By Pam Carlson

Sydney Koirth, 20, has a lot on her plate. A Radiologic Technology major at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas, she’s juggling school, a part-time job and caring for her 3-year-old son, Gavin. And her skill in doing so hasn’t been lost on those who work with her.

“Sydney has an amazing ability to prioritize and manage her time,” says Susan Dumler, her academic advisor. “Sydney puts forth excellence in all that she does. She sets goals and carefully plans how she will achieve them.”

“Radiology was something I found my senior year of high school,” Sydney says. “I had been interested in forensic science. Then I took a bunch of interest tests and radiology kept coming up. After completing the radiology program, my goal is to return to my hometown hospital (in Pratt, KS) to work. I hope to gain certification in Radiography, Mammography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Computed Tomography and Bone Densitometry. 

“I also plan to apply to the sonography program here at Fort Hays State University,” Sydney added. “Down the road, I hope to further my education even more by applying to medical school to gain my Doctorate and become a radiologist.”

Scholarship America’s Dream Award will help Sydney achieve those goals. “I was searching for scholarships and happened to come upon the Dream Award,” Sydney said. “I was really shocked and honored to receive it. I kept wondering ‘is this real?’ The Dream Award alleviates some of the costs and helps me provide for Gavin. It’s a very big stress reliever.”

Sydney became pregnant with Gavin when she was a junior in high school. His father left just weeks after Gavin was born, so Sydney provides for and raises Gavin with the help of supportive family and friends. 

“I just can’t stress enough how grateful I am for my friends and family for their help through everything, especially my mom,” Sydney said. “Although this was a life changing event, I continued my extracurricular activities as normal.  This included being president of Pep Club and FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America), secretary of my FFA and 4-H clubs and participating in activities such as Math Relays, Academic Olympics, Science Olympiads, the Kansas Junior Academy of Sciences, American Junior Academy of Science, volleyball, basketball, track and field and the high school yearbook. I was also in the National Honor Society, a Kansas Honors Scholar, second in my class all four years of high school and class valedictorian.

“My mom was really great. I think I made it through because I had awesome help,” Sydney says.

Just two weeks after Gavin was born, Sydney started attending summer classes at Pratt Community College. She got her certified nursing assistant certification at 16 and began working at Pratt Health and Rehabilitation Center. Two years later, she earned a medicine aide license, and she continues to work at Pratt Health and Rehabilitation Center on weekends.

“There are more safety measures because of COVID. Residents can’t have visitors, we all wear masks. I’m mostly concerned about bringing it home to Gavin, but am not too worried, because I take all the necessary precautions,” Sydney says. 

“For my program you spend a full year on campus, and the second year you work full-time at a hospital.  School and an unpaid internship are about 40 hours a week. I work from 7:30 am to 4 pm Monday-Friday and have been shadowing people at the hospital and starting to do exams under supervision. Our classes are online,” she says. “Everyone says school must be so hard for me with Gavin, [but] Gavin helps me – he keeps my energy up, gives me a study break. He’s definitely a blessing. Taking a break from studying to play trucks or read a story is sometimes just the thing I need.”

Sydney continues to make time for volunteering as well, saying it is something that has always been important to her and something that she hopes to instill in her son. 

“For many years I have volunteered at many events around my community: setting up Christmas lights in Lemon’s Park, decorating Christmas cookies and organizing Christmas baskets with the local Elks chapter, collecting and organizing donations for the Food Bank, Humane Society and Angel Tree, stuffing envelopes for the Skyline Foundation and coaching fourth and fifth grade basketball.

“My community has always been supportive and encouraging in all that I have done. It has positively affected the person I have become today. I am very passionate about giving back because I want to show that all the support and encouragement has truly made an impact on my life.”

Sydney’s advice for other students?

“Step back, see what’s important to you and prioritize. Try not to get discouraged when you feel overwhelmed. It probably seems hard, but it’s definitely possible. I am extremely excited for what my future holds and so thankful for every opportunity that has been given to me.”

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