In the span of 10 months, Tracy Rogers landed her dream job as clinical coordinator of the Yavapai College Radiology Technology program, was promoted to program director, won the equivalent of the college’s “teacher of the year” award and got married.

Add the fact she’s a mom to 3-year-old Lincoln and is pursuing a master’s degree and you get a sense of the whirlwind that upended (in a good way) Tracy’s life seven years after she graduated from YC’s radiology technology program.

“I always wanted to teach since the day I graduated,” she said, explaining why she sought the clinical coordinator (primary instructor) position after working as a mammographer and managing imaging centers in the Prescott area and the Verde Valley.

Tracy recalls her student experience at YC as challenging but manageable because of supportive instructors like Biology Professor Dr. Matt Pearcy, winner of the GIFT Fellowship in Teaching award in 2014 on the strength of his then-student Tracy’s nomination.

Tracy also was inspired by former YC radiology technology program director, Rich Leclair. “He just believed in all of us so much. Even when we couldn’t believe in ourselves, he knew we were going to be fine.”

Tracy channels both Leclair and Pearcy since returning to YC, doggedly lifting up individual “rad tech” students and pushing them to success. “Everyone at Yavapai College was so supportive and I wanted to give back, because I remember how stressful it was,” she said.

Within months of Tracy’s return to her alma mater as clinical coordinator, the program director departed. Tracy was named interim director and, following a competitive hiring process, won the permanent position.

Essentially, she served both as clinical coordinator and program director the entire 2022-2023 academic year, but didn’t miss a beat with radiology students who, impressed by Tracy’s hard work and compassion, nominated her for the GIFT Teaching award. One student said in her nomination letter: “I am beyond grateful that I joined the (rad tech) program when I did because having (Tracy) as my instructor, clinical coordinator and director all at once has made a huge impact on my life.”

Tracy was the hands-down winner of the teaching award in 2023, saying in her acceptance speech that she strives to make a difference in her students’ lives and journeys. In a later interview, she said she was honored by the award but had jokingly told her students afterward, “next time just give me a hug.”

Tracy’s own college and career journey took some twists and turns early on. As a teenager she was certified and worked alongside her father as an Emergency Medical Technician and later volunteered in a veterinary clinic, both in her home state of New Jersey. She dropped out of college her first time out, finding the very large community college impersonal and difficult to navigate.

After moving to Prescott Valley in 2012, Tracy began exploring college and career options in the field she had always been drawn to – healthcare. “When I was an EMT I thought broken bones were the most gnarly thing ever. And I really always loved anatomy. The human body is absolutely incredible – the things we’re capable of.”

Tracy contemplated nursing before choosing to pursue radiology technology on the advice of her former mother-in-law and after an aunt underwent radiation treatments for cancer. “The girls doing her radiation treatments made her want to keep going back,” she recalled of her aunt’s experience.

Although hesitant to try and fail again in college, Tracy said the admissions and advising staff at YC erased her self-doubt. “They made me feel comfortable that I would be successful at whatever I chose to do.”

After completing prerequisites like biology and anatomy, Tracy was accepted into YC’s radiology technology program in 2014. Admittedly she struggled early on -- even “melting down” two weeks into the program. But with the support of her classmates, whom she still considers “family” today, and her instructors, she dug in, discovered study strategies that worked and graduated with honors.

“This career has changed my life. It has made it so I could end up as a single mom and be OK. It gave me strength in my life and I want that for other people. I want everyone to have that kind of opportunity,” she said.

Besides guiding 12 new radiology technologists to graduation, hiring a new clinical coordinator – fellow 2016 rad tech cohort member Avery Liggett – and marrying her husband, Allan, Tracy’s whirlwind year has featured a number of student-centered additions to YC’s rad tech program. Working with the Yavapai College Foundation, she secured child-care assistance and emergency funds for current students and established a continuing-education scholarship for program graduates. Tracy also launched a rad tech student club and honor society and continues to forge strong relationships in a radiology community comprising many YC rad tech graduates.

“I’ll never stop trying to work hard for these communities and these students,” Tracy said. “There’s something very exciting and fulfilling about being part of other people’s success.”