Undergraduate public health sciences student Kristy Ricca was recently awarded the 2017 Alan D. Waggoner Sonographer Student Scholarship Award. She is the second Clemson student to be awarded this national scholarship out of 23 eligible students that have come through the Cardiovascular Imaging Leadership (CVT) program since its establishment only four years ago.

Eric Walker, director of Clemson’s CVT program, made Ricca aware of the scholarship opportunity. Walker said the fact that the program has already produced two national scholarship recipients reflects well on the program and the level of achievement of its students.

“Having two of our students earn this national scholarship from the American Society of Echocardiography in such a short period of time is quite the accomplishment given our concentration is so small,” said Walker.

Ricca was incredibly excited to hear she was chosen to receive this award out of hundreds of applicants across the country.

“This scholarship has meant so much to me,” Ricca said. “It was confirmation that all of my hard work and dedication to this program had truly paid off.”

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Kristy Ricca, winner of the 2017 Alan D. Waggoner Sonographer Student Scholarship Award.
Image Credit: Kristy Ricca

Ricca’s decision to pursue this field of study came from years of experience with her father, who has had an aortic dissection and suffers from Marfan Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder. Between his congenital heart disease, surgeries and doctor’s visits, Ricca saw his constant fight as inspiration to work in the cardiology field.

She had no prior background in cardiovascular imaging before coming to Clemson. Originally a pre-med student, Ricca applied to Clemson after stumbling upon its cardiovascular imaging program and has excelled in it ever since. Although she said the program is challenging, she admits that is what she loves most about it.

“I would say at this point in Clemson’s program I have a solid foundation for cardiovascular imaging,” Ricca said. “I am so excited to continue my journey through graduation and my future career.”

After graduation, Ricca plans to secure a job in cardiovascular imaging in order to gain work experience with variations of different pathologies. After spending time in the field, she hopes to apply to a physician’s assistant program to further her education and career in cardiology.

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Ricca at the American Society of Echocardiography’s Scientific Sessions in Baltimore, Maryland.
Image Credit: Kristy Ricca

In addition to her financial award, this scholarship allowed Ricca to travel to the American Society of Echocardiography’s Scientific Sessions in Baltimore, Maryland. She enjoyed learning from others that were once in her shoes as an undergraduate student in the health sciences field.

Clemson’s Cardiovascular Imaging Leadership concentration is an innovative public health sciences degree program carried out in partnership with the Greenville Health System (GHS). The program is the only one in the nation to combine CVT training – which equips students to use imaging technology to help diagnose heart and vascular ailments – with a comprehensive baccalaureate education in public health sciences and health care leadership. Students spend two years on the Clemson campus and two years at GHS, working alongside sonographers, cardiologists and vascular surgeons.

The Alan D. Waggoner Student Scholarship Award is given to select sonographer students enrolled in accredited educational programs who also exhibit a passion for echocardiography and demonstrate leadership abilities. The award was established in 2001 in recognition of Waggoner’s professional achievements and service to the American Society of Echocardiography.