Despite Winding Path, Curtis ‘Didn’t Fold’ in Earning Radiologic Technology Degree from Sandburg

  Aaron Frey
  Wednesday, May 15, 2019 4:49 PM
  Campus News

Galesburg, IL

Kandi Curtis’ path to becoming a college graduate has been anything but conventional.

“I’ve been here for quite some time,” she said. “Everybody’s like, ‘Are you ever going to graduate?’ Yeah, one day. I promise.”

That long-awaited day finally arrives Thursday night when she crosses the stage in Carl Sandburg College’s 51st annual Commencement at Galesburg High School.

After dropping out of high school, Curtis got her GED in 2002. She took business classes at Sandburg in 2006, but she left following a cancer scare that resulted in surgery. Curtis came back to Sandburg in 2013 and took prerequisites for two years before enrolling in the radiologic technology program.

She became pregnant during her first year in the program and took the next one off when her son, David, was born in 2016. She’s spent the last two years completing her Associate in Applied Science in radiologic technology.

“I had my son, had that year off and came back,” said Curtis, 37, of Galesburg. “That said I really like the program, I really want to be an X-ray tech and I love everything about it. It’s almost surreal for me. It’s like I know it’s happening, but it feels like it’s not happening.”

Between her first two stints at Sandburg, Curtis worked for seven years at Long John Silver’s in Galesburg, where she was a shift manager. When the restaurant closed in 2014, Curtis was ready trade fast food for a fresh start.

“Have you ever gone through life knowing you were supposed to be doing something else than what you were doing?” Curtis said. “I knew I could do better and wanted to do better. I knew I wanted to help people.”

Meanwhile, she’s thankful for the help she’s received from others along the way, particularly radiology instructor Jackie Whipple.

“When I was pregnant, she made sure I was OK and checked on me. She’s always believed in me,” Curtis said. “She’s never questioned if I could do it or not. It makes you want to be there and say, ‘I want to get up and go to class.’”

It’s been nearly two decades since Curtis last crossed the stage to receive her GED diploma. Asked what her 20-year-old self would say to her now, Curtis said the message would be simple.

“’I’m proud of you. You did it, through every life struggle, challenge and tribulation. You didn’t fold,’” Curtis said. “I didn’t fold.”

Kandi Curtis

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Aaron Frey