We’re proud of the ambitions and accomplishments of our students and alumni – learn some of their stories in our monthly feature:
Maggie Wang ’22
Associate of Science in Nursing program
“I want to be a nurse because my family and I have received so much care and support from nurses. They provide excellent physical and emotional support when we get sick. I want to be a good nurse like them and care for other people who need help,” shares Maggie Wang ’22, a student in our Associate of Science in Nursing degree program. Born in China, but with plans to get married in the United States, Maggie moved here nine years ago. While it has been challenging taking on her studies in a second language, she credits the support of her ESL tutor and all of her instructors with helping her excel each semester.
Maggie chose to attend PA College for our robust academic program, including our simulation resources in the Center for Excellence in Practice. She especially enjoyed the simulation learning during her first semester, which allowed her to both dive into how to care for patients and through practice, bring her weaknesses to light. “It enabled me to use my critical thinking to combine different situations during the simulation labs; showing me which points I had to pay extra attention to the next time. And the practice lab has excellent instructors who helped me pass all the nursing skills practicums,” Maggie explains.
Currently working as a nurse’s aide at Maple Farm Nursing Center in Akron, PA, after becoming a Registered Nurse, Maggie aspires to work in Obstetrics. “I think providing care for mothers and their newborns is a sacred job. I understand how important it is to educate pregnant women and new mothers; to both support the moms and help their babies grow up healthy,” she offers.
Maggie lives in Ephrata, PA, and in her free time, she enjoys music, cooking, and hiking. In addition to spending time playing with her son, Maggie also enjoys traveling with her family.
Derek Pietsch ’15 ’20, BS, RT(R), ARRT
Orthopedic Device Sales Representative, Polaris Surgical LLC
After serving full-time in the U.S. Navy for three years, Derek Pietsch ’15 ’20 enrolled in the Radiography program at PA College. Given his interest in human anatomy and a desire to help others during challenging times, a career in health care made a lot of sense. Derek also sought a field with job security and opportunities for continual learning. He excelled in our program, earning both the Academic Excellence Award and Clinical Excellence Award upon earning his associate degree in 2015.
While working in Radiography at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Derek returned to PA College to pursue his Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences degree, which he completed last year. Working largely online, he carried an average of 9 credits per semester, working full time while he and his wife raised their two children. Derek shares: “The biggest hurdle to reaching my educational and professional goals was the constant challenge of time management and finding time to study. The work/school and home balance is/was tough, but my family and coworkers have supported me through it all and for that, I cannot thank them enough!”
In September 2020, Derek embarked on a new phase of his career, taking on the role of orthopedic device sales representative with Polaris Surgical LLC – providing sales, training and implementation of orthopedic devices, such as surgical plates and prosthetics, for surgeons and their teams. Always striving for self-improvement and to provide a better life for himself and his family, Derek is excited to utilize more of his knowledge and education in this role. Looking back over his career so far, he’s most proud that he has been a “go-to” guy for his colleagues. “I continuously strive to keep learning and be the best at what I am doing. By becoming an x-ray technologist or orthopedic device rep that peers, residents or doctors/surgeons can rely on to provide quality advice and results, feels rewarding,” Derek explains. He also credits his military service and background as a wrestler with helping him develop the discipline needed to succeed in his career.
Derek lives in Marietta, PA with his wife Laci, and their children, Zaiden, 12 and Brynli, 4. He enjoys spending his free time playing with his children, swimming or doing mostly anything outdoors including hunting, fishing, and kayaking. Derek adds: “When I am able to, I still enjoy volunteering as a youth sport coach for football and wrestling, where I feel I can pay it forward and be a positive role model for younger generations.”
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!