This year’s Outstanding Graduate for the Fauquier Campus was inspired by her own experiences to study surgical technology at Laurel Ridge Community College. As she struggled to deliver her first of three children, Theresa Akyaa saw how much the surgical technologist was assisting the surgeons.
“I also wanted to advance my skillset,” the Dumfries resident said. “I was a nurse back home in Ghana, a community health nurse.”
Akyaa currently works as a sterile processing technician at INOVA Fairfax Hospital, and hopes to continuing working there as a surgical technologist.
Laurel Ridge Surgical Technology instructor Lisa Day noticed how talented Akyaa was right away.
“It was evident very early on that she was a determined and dedicated student,” she said. “Ms. Akyaa was one of the top applicants to our very competitive, rigorous program. She is an excellent student, all while balancing the full-time responsibilities of family and her full-time employment. Her determination and work ethic make it apparent that she will be a fierce patient advocate.
“Not only do I believe she will be an excellent surgical technologist, but she will embrace lifelong learning as she strives to be exceptional. She has assumed the role of mentor and a leader among her classmates.”
Working, taking care of children ages 4, 6 and 8, and studying have been “very, very hard,” Akyaa acknowledged. But, she has been very happy with her decision to enroll at Laurel Ridge.
“I really like the school,” said Akyaa. “Every faculty member was very nice and very helpful. Ms. Day was always there. She was like a mother to us. Everything we needed, she would try her best.”
For her second year in the program, Akyaa received a $7,000 scholarship when she was selected for the prestigious Potomac Health Foundation Fellows program through the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.
She hopes to become a surgical first assistant and earn her bachelor’s degree in health management.
Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.