Graduation at Edgewood College
From Educator to Technician
Gabe Velazquez, an Edgewood College Community Scholar, spent his last
two years off campus in the medical science degree program in cardiac and
vascular ultrasound
smoother than yours was,” Velazquez said. “It was nice to see that sort of parallel. The guy I worked with ended up going to Edgewood. I think we ended up being a
walking poster for Edgewood. He ended up drinking the Kool-Aid too and went to Edgewood.”

Velazquez was on track to becoming an educator until he attended a talk that Edgewood sponsored about the medical sciences degree. Velazquez was hooked.

“It’s a joint program with UW Health where you do your first two years of undergrad at Edgewood and you take your general education and basic science and medical
courses and then you two years in an ultrasound program where they rotate you to different hospitals and clinics,” Velazquez said. “And more of that is hands-on. It’s
ultrasound, so you spend more time scanning patients and learning pathology and other things. It’s mostly internship, but the coursework is outside of Edgewood.
You’re more so working with registered stenographers, but you still go over lectures and what not. But the majority of the assignments are hands-on clinical,
similarly to how the nursing program is laid out.”

Due to COVID-19, many college graduates are facing an unsure employment future as unemployment hit depression-levels. Velazquez was fortunate to snare a job
immediately upon graduation.

“I can work as a cardiac stenographer and I actually have work lined up to do that here in Madison,” Velazquez said. “MRIs are a different imaging modality. But it’s
similar in the sense that you are a technician. You go in and take certain images and send it to a reading physician and a physician will make a diagnosis based on
the read-out.”

While Velazquez is grateful that he has a job that he loves and found immediate employment, his college experience was bitter sweet because he had to leave the
campus experience behind.

“There were a lot of retreats that I went on,” Velazquez recalled. “Or even the school supply shopping trips we went on as Community Scholars, any of those events
that we were in a group setting, you really didn’t have to do anything special. It was just a fun group of people. And they were all there for the right reasons. Everyone
is there to see you succeed and they want you to succeed. It’s a very supportive environment. That’s what sticks with me. For two of my years there, I was off
campus doing the clinical and internship portion of my degree. I actually missed campus quite a lot just because being in that environment all of the time was fun for
me. It made being successful a lot easier being around those kind of people all of the time.”

Velazquez is an educational pioneer in his family as he is the first to graduate from college.

“I am a first generation college graduate,” Velazquez exclaimed. “My family is excited. They always wanted me to pursue higher education. And often times, it felt like
I was never going to get there. But they are excited and happy for me. And I’m excited to be able to start supporting them going forward now that this stage in my life
is coming to a close. It’s a different dynamic that will start where I hope that I am the one who will start caring for them.”

Graduation is a very big celebration on the Edgewood Campus with masses and breakfasts before the traditional graduation ceremony held recently at Monona
Terrace. Edgewood was a “ghost” campus in May and there was no pomp and circumstance for the graduates.

“Graduating in the COVID-19 era is strange,” Velazquez said. “I wish we would have had a commencement ceremony. It’s tough when you can’t celebrate something
that you’ve worked pretty hard for. It’s bitter-sweet really. You’ve known wonderful people and you aren’t going to see them for quite some time. And you can’t
celebrate with them. At the same time, you’re excited to go out in the workforce. Especially in the medical field, there is a need now that was there before, but more
so now. It’s an interesting time to go into medicine.”

What introduced Velazquez to his future career was a willingness to explore new horizons. He encouraged future students to do the same.

“Take risks and chances,” Velazquez urged them. “And go and do things that you would never have otherwise done before or would have done by yourself. Meet as
many people as you can and make as many friends as you can. Edgewood has a lot of opportunities. And if you are open and willing, then it can only be beneficial.”

While Velazquez is looking forward to starting his career as a technician and knows that he has years of growth ahead of him in the position, he also knows that this
is not the end of the line for him.

“I think being a PA would be good,” Velazquez said. “Physician’s assistants can pretty much work anywhere. They don’t have quite as much schooling as a
physician. But you still have a lot of responsibility in your hands and you still help your patients quite a bit. It has a larger capacity than I do now. It’s what I would like
to do. It would allow me to have a larger impact. Right now, I’m more in a technician role, which is fine too. A lot of the decision-making goes over my head for now.
And I would like to be in a role where you have more say in an administrative position, being where you can have a larger impact.”

Gabe Velazquez will be having an impact on Madison’s health for decades to come.
By Jonathan Gramling

When he first set foot on the Edgewood College campus as a Community Scholar four
years ago, Gabe Velazquez thought he would become an English teacher. For his
community service, Velazquez chose the program Committed to College, founded by
Jessica Doyle, which works with West High School students.

“Some older, upper classmen Community Scholars introduced me to that program and
I kind of stuck with that for a majority of my time at Edgewood,” Velazquez said. “It
partnered up Edgewood students who would go in after school and help with tutoring,
mentoring and completing college and job applications, that sort of stuff. We would
meet 1-2 times a week and work through some of that stuff.”

It wasn’t so long ago that Velazquez had been in the same position, but although they
were close in age, Velazquez got the respect he needed to be an effective mentor
.

“It kind of motivated you to go out of your way to see how you could make their path