NHTI, Associate of Science in Radiologic Technology, 2008
From student and mentee to mentor and teacher, Jessica Horton’s community college journey has profoundly influenced her career and life by opening doors to a rewarding healthcare career. This was not a typical journey however – it was one driven by a focus on gaining very specific, work-ready skills and using those skills to advance steadily.
Often, when students earn a bachelor’s degree, their next step is to enter the workforce or pursue a master’s degree. Not Jessica Horton. Back in 2006, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Fitness from Keene State College and wanted to work in healthcare but was unsure about a particular role. A family friend who was an x-ray technologist recommended that she do a job shadow in the hospital, and that is where she found her professional calling.
She learned that the Radiologic Technology program at NHTI was highly regarded and would enable her to get the training and education needed to enter the field. With many credits from Keene State transferring, she earned her Associate of Science in Radiologic Technology in under two years and immediately landed a full-time job in the outpatient clinic at Cheshire Medical Center.
“I loved my time at NHTI,” she said. “The faculty were welcoming, professional and truly cared about student success. I remember lectures, group activities, presentations and spending time outside studying. NHTI faculty Nancy Brown Moffett and Sandy Beliveau were amazing mentors. They worked hard to educate, demonstrate and lead. They were the ultimate role models! I also remember the clinical aspect of my education and how much it prepared me for my career.”
Jessica worked at Cheshire Medical Center for nearly eight years and was promoted regularly. She eventually became the chief technologist and oversaw the center’s three radiology departments.
In 2018, River Valley Community College (RVCC) inquired about sending students to Cheshire Medical Center for clinical work, and Jessica completed the recognition process for this new educational site. Three months later, she was offered and accepted the clinical coordinator and associate professor position at RVCC for the Radiologic Technology program.
“I continue to maintain my x-ray tech skills by working per diem, but now I am a full-time teacher at RVCC. I feel the community college experience has come full circle for me,” she said. “I love working with students and find what I do to be so rewarding and fulfilling!”
Born and currently living in Walpole, Jessica is a life-long resident of Cheshire County. She enjoys spending her spare time raising her daughter, walking her chocolate lab, skiing and snowshoeing, and paddle boarding and kayaking at the family lake house in Washington, NH.
When she’s not spending time outdoors or teaching, she’s back in the classroom learning and working toward earning a Master’s in Leadership at Granite State College. The professional development program through the Community College System of NH is helping cover the costs.
Jessica found that the on-ramps to education through NH’s community colleges mirror what many students really need. “The mission and goals of the community colleges are aligned with the student experience. They are affordable, accessible and have excellent instructor to student ratios, and therefore, provide such a quality educational experience,” she said. “Community colleges provide the opportunity to improve your quality of life. Having a skill, trade or education can open so many doors!”
Jessica had these words of advice for her students – take one day at a time and help is always available. It will be worth it in the end and there is a 100% job placement rate for this career. And like those who mentored her at NHTI, she will always be there to support and mentor students so they too can become successful.