Chattanooga, TN — When it came time to enroll at ChattState this fall, Karlie Zimmerman realized that medical assisting was her passion. She shares, “It spoke to me and I wanted to honor the people who saved my life.” In January 2012, Ms. Zimmerman was about to experience the joy of motherhood for the first time. At age 32 she had been waiting for this moment for a long time. Then it happened. Just prior to birth, Karlie, suffering from a lack of oxygen, went into cardiac and respiratory arrest as she fought for her life. The 10 days spent in the hospital are forever erased from her memory and the first few weeks of motherhood went by as a blur. She was so disoriented; she did not even remember her own child. Her mother said that her daughter’s maternal instinct “kicked in” even though Karlie remembers barely anything from that time. Today, her daughter Mckenzie is an active, healthy 21-month old.
The Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Chattanooga State Community College named Karlie Zimmerman Outstanding Student of the Year (OSY) on November 8. Ms. Zimmerman maintains a 3.9 GPA in the medical assisting program and will graduate in August 2014.
Having a brain injury only served to fire up her determination to overcome it. Once she realized that she was not going to be able to learn things the way she used to, she adjusted and moved forward. Karlie’s mother, Irene Oster, was her biggest cheerleader. As a registered nurse with 25 years of experience, Ms. Oster kept after Karlie and encouraged her to return to school telling her repeatedly, “You can do it!”
Cynthia Rutledge, medical assisting program director enthuses, “Once you meet Karlie you soon discover that her spirit and zeal for life are very contagious. Her perseverance, fortitude and positive attitude are nothing short of amazing.”
“Karlie Zimmerman is an outstanding student. Many of the qualities she exhibits in her role as a student are those that employers are seeking in their future employees. Karlie is productive in the classroom, is a team player and exhibits both personal and professional integrity,” says Ms. Rutledge.
Excitement builds each year as students from the Tennessee College of Applied Technology are selected as nominees for the Outstanding Student of the Year. This year five students were nominated for the honor: Joshua Campbell, Computer Operations Technology, nominated by Jill Wentworth and Mike Mercer; Claire Ballew, Cosmetology, nominated by Brandy Krantz; Misty Thompson, Licensed Practical Nursing, nominated by Mary Kamuiru; Steve Terlizzese, Welding, nominated by Garry Holland; and Karlie Zimmerman, Medical Assisting, nominated by Cynthia Rutledge.
Although there can only be one winner, the struggles experienced by each of the nominees to overcome situations and excel in their chosen career choice makes them all winners. Ms. Zimmerman, Ms. Rutledge and ChattState OSY coordinator Suzanne Myatt attended a meeting in Nashville on November 12 with the 27 nominees from around the state to prepare for the regional competition in Knoxville that will take place on January 23.
For more information on programs through the Tennessee College of Applied Technology at ChattState, please visit www.chattanoogastate.edu/tcat/programs.html or call 423.697.4404.