Twenty-two-year-old Sierra Montoya’s career is on an upward trajectory. Already working as a radiological technologist for Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville and on schedule to graduate this December from the Community College of Denver’s certificate of mammography program, Sierra is proud of her accomplishments.
But, life wasn’t always easy for her. Growing up in a broken home, her parents divorced when she was only in the first grade; she and her younger brother were often left to fend for themselves.
“Growing up was hard for us and, as a result, I didn’t always make the best choices,” Sierra said. “Then when I was in high school, I decided that I didn’t want to let my past define me and keep making the same mistakes.”
It was her grandmother who encouraged her to go to college by telling her that education is the key to a better life by enthusiastically repeating, “Education, Education, Education!” Sierra took these words to heart and decided not to let anything stand in the way of her success.
Sierra chose Community College of Denver (CCD) because of its reputation, low tuition, and support services. She was the first in her family to attend college and didn’t have a lot of money to invest; but, CCD’s scholarship and on-campus support programs helped her get started.
She spent the first year focused on her prerequisites and then decided to go into the radiological technologist (RTE) program. She graduated with honors in May earning an Associate of Applied Science and after graduation was hired by one of the sites she had trained with during her schooling. Now she is continuing her education with a certificate in mammography, which is a specialty of the RTE program.
“I liked the RTE program because, in addition to the training, it is a two-year job interview. As part of the program, we rotated through all different clinical sites learning about the different types of equipment,” she said. “CCD prepared me for my employment and pretty much helped me get my job after I graduated—and I love it!”
Sierra is enthusiastic about being a radiologic technologist; she says that it is a patient’s stepping-stone to treatment. She is committed to helping her community and making a positive difference.
“With radiologic technology, we help diagnose patients through x-rays, and now, with mammography, we can help prolong a patient’s life through regular screenings for cancer,” she said.
Sierra chose CCD specifically because she heard of its great reputation, low tuition and the positive comments she heard about the program. The multiple clinical sites visited during the program walk students through the clinical aspects of being a technologist in a variety of healthcare settings. Students get to rotate through outpatient clinics, as well as through hospitals where they learn to work with trauma.
“I knew I’d get my best education from the clinical setting,” she said, “being able to experience a lot of different settings.”
Sierra also found the student success workshops worth attending. She encourages other students to take advantage of everything CCD has to offer and tells students not to be afraid to ask for help. She also feels strongly that anyone thinking about going to college needs let go of the past and not let it be an excuse for their present.
“If you are the type of person who likes to be involved, there are plenty of clubs and ways to get involved,” she said. “I chose CCD for a better life; without college, I would not have the success I have today and believe that education is the key to that success. My experience at CCD changed my life and made me think of life in a different way and opened me up to the possibilities for my future.”
“CCD cares about their students and provides all of the resources you need to be successful,” she said. “Going to CCD was the key to my success and the best decision I ever made.”
CCD offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree with a focus in Radiologic Technology, which is the oldest and most well respected radiology program in the state. It also offers two advanced modality certificates in computed tomography and mammography. For more information, contact 303.365.8300.