Skip to main content
San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Honk if you need encouragement

November 4, 2013
Cheryl and her fellow Respiratory Therapy students found support in a rather unlikely place.

Cheryl Stansbury knew things were going to be tight when she started her Respiratory Therapy program in Temecula. Her husband, Michael, was in an uncertain construction industry and his job site had him commuting 90-minutes each way. Their 2-year old daughter, Gloria, needed a stable home environment with as little back-and-forth to child-care as possible. Stress was mounting.

“They tell you it’s hard, but you don’t really know until you get into it,” says Cheryl. “I was surprised at how intense the program is; but we had lots of support.”

Motivation to push on came from an unexpected source. Documentary, “Flight of the Geese” was shown in RT Program Director and instructor William Hall’s class one day. It explained that geese fly in a V formation because the aerodynamic shape reduces the air resistance, enabling them to cover longer distances than flying in isolation.

The birds take turns being in the front, falling back when they get tired, and another goose from the back takes the lead. Throughout their journey every goose helps out and takes a turn leading; their synergy of working together makes their flight less stressful and more productive.

“The geese would even honk ‘encouragement’ when they got too slow,” says Cheryl. “Everyone in class got it. From then on we would honk at each other before a quiz for ‘good luck’, or we’d text ‘honk, honk, honk’,” she says.

The RT class realized that they could experience greater individual and group success if they pulled together as a team and took turns in a leadership role.

‘Everyone had some sort of family situation that made it hard,” says Cheryl. She was no different.

Cheryl was up most mornings at 4:30 to take little Gloria to her mom’s house. Cheryl’s mom, also named Gloria, went from full-time to part-time work just to help out. When Cheryl was in 12-hour clinical rotation days, she would have 2-day blocks of not seeing her daughter at all.

She had some help at home, too. Pulling long days and miles of travel, Michael stepped in to fill the gaps.

“He is not a man of many words, but he showed his support with his actions,” says Cheryl. “If there was an absence of dinner on the table, he’d say, ‘Don’t worry about it; just study and take the time you need.’”

Cheryl did just that and along the way made her mark on the Respiratory Therapy program and her budding career. She was a member of the campus’s RT team that won this year’s Sputum Bowl State Championship. With a 4.0 GPA and perfect attendance, she was Salutatorian for her graduating class.

Right after her August graduation, Cheryl took three National Board of Respiratory Care exams to earn CRT, RRT and NPS credentials.

“Cheryl is the perfect example of what it means to be a ‘clinician’ versus ‘technician’ in the field of Respiratory Therapy,” says William Hall. “She faced every challenge presented to her with a positive attitude and has set an amazing bar for all future RT students to strive to reach.”

Cheryl says her ‘standout moment’ was when she found out that the entire RT class of twelve passed all three exams on their first try. “That was awesome,” she says.

Positive momentum is hard to stop.

Inland Valley Medical Center was her very first clinical rotation – and she was the first RT student the Center had ever invited for externship. She was confident and excited to demonstrate her skills and knowledge.

“I loved everything about our program and school,” says Cheryl. “We had the best equipment so I was ready to go into any clinical site I was sent to.”

Cheryl begins her career in respiratory care at Inland Valley Medical Center, her first extern site, this month (Oct.). Big honks all around.