Pursuing a Career in Helping People

  • two women in surgical gear practicing in a lab

Katherine Acosta was working at Goodwill in Colorado Springs when her uncle encouraged her to take a career compatibility test with Pikes Peak Workforce Center. Though her husband worked too, her income wasn’t enough to help support their family of five.

To her surprise, surgical technologist ranked as a top career compatible with Acosta’s personality.

“I never actually thought about the medical field,” Acosta says. “When I took the test, I found out I’m 98 percent humanitarian. I love helping people.”

Acosta learned that a surgical technologist did just that: they help by preparing the surgical instruments and handing them to the surgeon during an operation, helping maintain the sterile field, and responding to the other needs in the operating room.

The thought of building a career to help people intrigued Acosta, and she researched schools that offered education and training in surgical technology. At the time, only one school in Colorado offered a program, and Community College of Denver (CCD) was building a program.

In anticipation of the new program at CCD, Acosta and her husband moved to Denver with their three children. Two years later, CCD began its surgical technology program, and Acosta enrolled.

A Fast Track to Graduation

Acosta faced challenges immediately. Financially strapped, she didn’t have enough money for books, scrubs and other necessities.

“I was almost kicked out of the program for not having the equipment needed for the program,” Acosta remembers. “It was getting rough.”

Instructors and support staff noticed Acosta’s challenges and offered a solution: a fast track program, which would allow her to complete the program in one year instead of two, thus cutting her tuition in half.

The challenge would be high; she’d have to take 17 or 18 credits per semester.

“With three kids all under the age of 7, it was difficult to find time to blend school work and home life and my part-time job,” Acosta says. “There were times when I wondered if I would pass my classes. I thought it was impossible.”

Acosta not only managed it, but she also made the Dean’s List twice. She graduated in December 2018 with the inaugural class of CCD’s surgical technology program.

“I was very determined to complete the program,” she says. “I did it for my kids.”

Eventually, Acosta hopes to become a surgical assistant, which will take one more year of education and training. In the meantime, her goal is to work as a surgical tech at Castle Rock Adventist Hospital.

“CCD was very helpful,” Acosta says. “They’re really determined and experienced techs and most of us have job placement. It’s definitely a good program and they really care.”

“No matter how hard it seems or how far-fetched a dream is, always keep your head up,” she continues. “You may feel like you’re drowning but there are people to help and assist you.”