We’re proud of the ambitions and accomplishments of our students and alumni – learn some of their stories in our monthly feature:

Student Spotlight

Samuel Ballard ‘23
Associate of Science in Nursing program

Samuel BallardAfter working as an EMT for three years, Samuel Ballard shifted his career path to the hospital setting. And after twelve years as a CNA/Emergency Room Tech, he took on his current role of Anesthesia Technician at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. Working toward his ultimate goal of becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist in an Intensive Care Unit, Samuel enrolled in PA College’s Associate of Science in Nursing Program. “I want to pursue this specialty because it is one of the highest levels of nursing and very rewarding,” he adds.

As a Penn Medicine employee, Samuel is entitled to UPHS’s Tuition Assistance Benefit Program that provides eligible employees with prepaid tuition assistance. Samuel was able to combine the tuition assistance with an additional discount that PA College provides exclusively to UPHS Health System employees. In addition to this incentive, our state-of-the-art simulation facilities were also a key factor in his choice to pursue his nursing career here. Samuel also shares: “I enrolled in this program because I have always wanted to be a Registered Nurse. I love helping people, especially in their time of need. The simulation lab is what I like most about the PA College program, along with the integration with the other students from different programs during simulation. It will really give a real-world atmosphere to my learning.”

Samuel lives in Philadelphia with his wife and their baby daughter. He has been an avid athlete his whole life – participating in gymnastics, track and cross country. Samuel also exceled in basketball and played at the college level for a year at West Hills College Coalinga in California. He loves nature and is currently enjoying gardening and growing food.

Alumni Spotlight

Marilyn Byerly ‘20 BA, RN
Clinical Peer Review Nurse, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health

Marilyn ByerlyEmbodying the PA College commitment to life-long learning, Marilyn Byerly graduated from our ASN nursing program this year at age 65. But her career in health care didn’t start here. Years ago, Marilyn graduated from Lancaster County Area Vocational Technical School as a Licensed Practical Nurse. She also earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Millersville University in 1999. Marilyn worked at Lancaster Osteopathic Hospital for twenty years on a medical surgical floor and in mental health and another twenty years in gerontology. Five years ago, she took on her current role as a nurse reviewer with Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health. In this role, Marilyn coordinates a medical staff peer review process that supports medical staff reappointment, advancement and clinical quality.

Marilyn’s background in psychology informed her time in our ASN program and she enjoyed sharing with her instructors and classmates some of her experiences, such as “allaying fears and presenting the positive impact that working as a mental health nurse can have,” she notes. While working in mental health nursing, Marilyn taught patients about their medications and gave presentations to the staff on seminars she had attended. She points to these experiences as the spark that led to her goal of next pursing her MSN degree, and of one day teaching nursing students in mental health.

Despite the accomplishment of earning her ASN degree, 2020 has been a challenging year for Marilyn, but fortunately, she was not alone. Her niece, Lori Hagen ’18, BSHS, LPN, is also a student in our ASN program (set to graduate in 2021), and a fellow review nurse at LGH. Last December, Lori’s parents became severely ill. Her father passed away, and Lori’s mother continues battle heart failure. Marilyn has since been living with her sister, as her primary care-giver, while continue her studies and full-time work. “If anyone is an inspiration to others starting out in the health care industry, it’s my Aunt Marilyn,” shares Lori. Marilyn had hoped to celebrate her graduation with a trip to Italy, but the coronavirus pandemic has temporarily put this adventure on hold. In the meantime, Marilyn enjoys her hobbies of running, reading and cooking.

Seeking People of PA College

Do you know an exceptional current student or alumnus whose experiences and accomplishments would help tell the PA College story? Or someone who has overcome an obstacle or reached a challenging milestone during their PA College experience? Please email your suggested names (and identify them in one of these categories) to Karen Jenkins. Self-nominations are also welcome!

PA College News