The Golden Globes, the Oscars, the Grammys – awards season is in full swing, but celebrities aren’t the only ones taking home industry accolades.

2016 Marian University graduate Sydney (Volkman) Lawson recently received a certificate of achievement for her work in Dallas as Graduate Medical Education Program Coordinator in the Division of Nephrology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Voted on by her peers and presented at the annual Division of Nephrology Achievement and Recognition Dinner, Lawson had been given no indication she would be recognized ahead of time.

“I was shocked, I was completely thrilled but still it was unexpected,” said Lawson. “I am very, very appreciative and am really thankful to everyone who notices all that I do and took the time to acknowledge it, being selected was truly amazing.”

In full, her certificate reads:
“This Certificate of Achievement acknowledges Sydney Lawson as a hard-working individual who goes above and beyond the call of duty, always keeps a cheerful attitude and depicts grace and integrity at all times.”

No, Lawson did not get to give an acceptance speech to thank those who helped her along the way. But, if she had, it’s possible her Marian education may have received a brief mention.

Where she got her start

The Grant Park, Ill. native’s journey to Marian started shortly after she took the ACT. Using the now-defunct ACT College Search app, she inputted her score, desired major, region, and distance range to populate a list. Wanting to be a nurse, she narrowed her options to one Illinois and two Wisconsin schools, but it was her visit to Marian that helped make up her mind.

“From the moment I toured the campus I knew it was the college for me and I knew it’s where I wanted to go,” Lawson said. “At Marian, you aren’t just a number, you’re a name, and they get to know you, and you get to know your professors and they become more than just professors.”

“The small class sizes, everyone knowing each other – coming from a small town, just having that personal touch and feeling like everyone cares about you was key.”

That personal touch was especially felt when, as a senior, Lawson needed to change majors and had quick and easy access to staff, who helped point her in the direction of the Community Health Services major.

“I ended up loving it, it allowed me to still work with people, help people and deliver patient care, just in a different capacity,” Lawson said. “Taking the knowledge I had from my first three years and using it now when I interact with doctors and nurses, knowing things about the human body and labs that I may otherwise not, has been invaluable.”

How she built her skill set

That’s not all that Lawson has taken from Marian and translated into her daily work. In addition to her work as a student mentor and taking part in several extracurriculars, she cites Marian’s Critical Thinking Model as being influential in her career development.

“It definitely prepared me to enter the work force and has helped me a lot as I’ve worked with my co-workers through the years,” said Lawson. “It taught me to take a step back and think about how my peers were arriving at decisions, why they were coming to a certain conclusion, and it’s led to problem solving.”

It didn’t take her long to apply the knowledge she gained at Marian – one month after graduation, having moved to Dallas/Fort Worth with her husband, she was accepted into the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center temp program as an administrative assistant.

Having received the training that normally would be given to high prospect internal candidates, Lawson was able to face her position being eliminated in May 2017 by entering the role of Senior Administrative Assistant of Internal Medicine in the Nephrology Department. Then, in October 2018, she again was promoted – this time to GME Program Coordinator for the Division of Nephrology.

What her future holds

Lawson is currently pursuing a Masters of Business Administration and Masters of Health Administration from the University of Phoenix, with an expected graduation date of 2021. From there, she would like to continue working with residents, but in the Graduate Medical Education realm.

“I enjoy what I do, so I think it would be great if I could one day be the education manager for all Internal Medicine residency and fellowship programs,” she said.

Knowing her hard work is getting noticed, we can’t help but think this dream will become realize sooner rather than later.

Sydney VolkmanSydney Volkman