Kendra Lawson's debt-free success started with dual-credit, continues with surgical technology program | HCTC

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Kendra Lawson's debt-free success started with dual-credit, continues with surgical technology program

Published on Apr 19, 2024

Kendra Lawson
Kendra Lawson will enter the surgical technology workforce after completing the program at Hazard Community & Technical College (HCTC) in May. Thanks to dual-credit coursework and scholarship opportunities offered at HCTC, Lawson will finish the program debt-free in less than one year after she started it.


Kendra Lawson will graduate from the surgical technology program at Hazard Community & Technical College (HCTC) in May. During high school, she found her passion for the medical field.

“I went to Perry County Central High School. I got accepted into the biomedical program from my freshman year all the way up to my senior year,” she said. “We got to experience all kinds of different health and other specialities.”

During her time in that biomedical program, Lawson learned about psychiatry. Despite an interest in the field, she decided against it due to the length of the programs.

“I started looking into psychiatry first. I thought psychiatry was going to be way too long,” she said. “Then I found surgical tech.”

Surgical technology coursework at HCTC equips graduates with the dispositions and skills necessary to facilitate the effective and safe conduct of surgical procedures. Having completed numerous dual-credit courses previously, Lawson knew she would finish the surgical technology program in less than one year.

The program's outlook for prospective workforce entrants is optimistic. The field touts a 1.6% job growth over the past three years and a projected 2.3% job growth over the next three. The average salary for these professionals is $43,884.

Lawson anticipates beginning her career upon graduation. She is also looking to the future, and she seems optimistic about the program's alignment with and preparation for her plans.

“I’d like to take some more classes and I’d like to apply to physician assistant school,” she said. “I have different options.”

With emphasis on science, patient care, aseptic techniques and surgical procedures, the program provides extensive hands-on experience through clinical instruction.

“It’s very hands-on, especially with the clinicals. During clinicals, you’re doing everything that a surgical tech does,” Lawson said. “From the start of the day until the end of the day. You get to scrub in on surgeries. You have to have so many surgeries that you scrub-in on to graduate.”

As explained, students in the program are able to experience the work setting as it exists in the real world. Before entering the operation room, students learn about practices and procedures in a laboratory setting on HCTC's Hazard Campus.

“Before clinicals, we had labs that we had to do and they were very much like a clinical setting,” she said.

Thanks to scholarships, Lawson will be a first-generation graduate and have no debt from her time in the program.

“All of my college is completely paid for,” she said. “Nobody in my family is in the medical field. Hardly any of them have actually completed college.”

She said she received the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority’s Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) and the HCTC Promise Scholarship. KEES funds students with a dollar amount that ranges based on high school academic success. The HCTC Promise Scholarship provides free tuition to first-time students during their first year at the institution.

To learn more about the program, contact Program Coordinator Joanna Martin via phone at (606) 487-3166 or email Prospective students may also visit Hazard Community & Technical College's Surgical Technology webpage. May 15 is the deadline to apply for Fall 2024 admission.