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Medical Laboratory Science Graduate Balanced School, Family Obligations in Pursuit of Degree

Tue, 12/17/2019 - 16:25pm | By: David Tisdale

Samantha DucksworthSamantha Ducksworth masterfully managed the clock and the calendar on her way to finishing her degree in medical laboratory science (MLS) at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), meeting classroom and family obligations along the way.

A native of Taylorsville, Mississippi, Ducksworth graduated Dec. 13 during USM’s undergraduate commencement ceremonies and will begin work soon at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, where she completed a six-month internship as part of the program that prepares students to work in clinical laboratories.

Students in the program are trained to examine and analyze body fluids, and cells. They are also instructed to look for bacteria, parasites, and other microorganisms; analyze the chemical content of fluids; match blood for transfusions; test for drug levels in the blood that show how a patient is responding to treatment; learn to prepare specimens for examinations, count cells, and look at abnormal cells in blood and body fluids.

Ducksworth persisted through many challenges in pursuit of her degree, including the birth of premature twins, and more recently, giving birth to her daughter.  As she balanced family and school obligations, Forrest General allowed her to start her internship’s clinical lab rotation early in order to allow her to spend some time with her baby daughter, and still graduate with her class.

“You really have to be focused on time management,” Ducksworth said. “If they’re (children) sick, you have to take care of them, or if they need help with their own homework, or preparing for school field trips, you still have to be there for them.

“I’m grateful for the help and support of my husband, mother and aunt, and from Forrest General, through all of this.”

While at USM, Ducksworth was also active in the Medical Laboratory Science Club, and earned an MLS scholarship.

“I’ve really enjoyed the program, especially learning the things needed to help patients get the best quality of care that can be provided for them through the work we do in the laboratory,” Ducksworth said. “My teachers have prepared us well, and everyone in the program - faculty, fellow students – have been very supportive. We all have the same goal, and they want you to succeed.

“I also want to be an example for my children, to show them that whatever your circumstances, that they can succeed as well.”

“Samantha is an example of success for other students who face challenges in their pursuit of a career,” said Dr. Mary Lux, one of Ducksworth’s professors. “We couldn’t be prouder of her,”  

The USM MLS program is housed in the College of Arts and Sciences’ School of Biological, Environmental and Earth Sciences (BEES). Learn more about the program at https://www.usm.edu/biological-environmental-earth-sciences/programs-medical-laboratory-science.php.