From Mom to Student to Two Dream Careers

As a professional sonographer and instructor at Central Ohio Technical College (COTC), Natasha Ford is living her dream job − twice.

In her early 30s the Newark mother of three boys returned to school at COTC after a decade as a stay-at-home-mom with a photography business on the side.

“Ultrasound always piqued my interest because I loved imaging. I babysat for years, so I have always enjoyed being a caregiver; I love being able to help people,” Ford says. “I think that led me to the direction of working in the medical field.”

Her experience at COTC allowed that passion to blossom. Five months before graduating from the college’s general diagnostic medical sonography technology (DMS) associate degree program, Ford had been hired as a sonographer at a Columbus hospital. Then, deciding to further her education, she took online classes to obtain her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

In 2017, Ford’s former sonography program director, Melinda Shoen, EdD, contacted her to see if she could teach once a week as an adjunct professor. Ford accepted, simultaneously signing on as an “as-needed” sonographer at Licking Memorial Hospital, which gave her the flexibility she needed to experience the best of both worlds: Working a job she loves while instilling that passion into students she instructs.

“I think that still working as a sonographer allows me to relate with our students and what they will experience at clinicals because I still work in the field myself,” Ford says. “I am a sonographer as well as an instructor, which allows me to have the experience of both sides – the education along with the clinical aspect.”

Ford’s real-world experience is easily passed on thanks to COTC’s small class sizes, which provide an ideal environment for fostering the type of student-teacher relationship that drew Ford to the college as a student.

“We are on a first-name basis with our students. We really get to know them personally and can connect with our students; I think we’re very approachable. They know that if they’re going through something academically or even personally, we’re always there,” Ford says. “We really build those relationships, which I think makes it even more of an intimate experience; they know that their learning is just as important for us as it is for them.”

In 2018, Ford was hired as a full-time faculty member at COTC, where she continues to instruct students in conjunction with her sonography position at Licking Memorial Hospital. She currently holds professional credentials as both a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer® with specialties in OB/GYN, Abdomen and Breast as well as a Registered Vascular Technologist®. Ford is also working toward her master’s degree in healthcare administration from Southern New Hampshire University.

Each day she comes to work at COTC, Ford is thankful for her chance to give back to a place that has given her so much. “I am thankful for the mentorship and support that Melinda Shoen and Beth Eyster have shown me throughout my experiences here at COTC as a student and as a colleague,” she notes.

“I love being able to help others learn; that I'm a part of their success. I truly love seeing the growth from day one of learning to scan to the completion of the DMS program,” says Ford. “I feel fortunate and proud to be a graduate of COTC and now faculty member who is able to give back to our students.”