How The UTees Mission Is Making An Impact For Cally

The recipient of our 2019 DPCL student scholarship and junior at Syracuse University didn’t know what she wanted to do at the start of her college career. She knew she wanted to make an impact, but it was not until getting her Emergency Medical Technician license and a fateful 16-hour shift on the ambulance that everything fell into place.


“Developing people and changing lives means something different to everyone and is specific to everyone’s own individual story. To my story, it now means evoking change in my community by helping anyone I can. It means making an impact on someone’s life, no matter how big or small. It means being kind and brave, no matter how scary a situation can be. It means always being the best version of myself, because you never know who you may cross paths with, or what their story may be. And at the end of the day I know I’m only one person, but if I can change at least one person’s life for the better, I’ve done my job.”

-Cally Peterson

Can you describe the process of getting your EMT license and why you decided to get your license in college?

Getting my EMT license is something I never thought I would do.  I’ve always known that I’ve wanted to do something in the medical field, however it was hard for me to choose a direction to follow.  I’ve shadowed plenty of doctors and worked in hospitals throughout both high school and college, but something always seemed to be missing.  After learning about the EMT program offered at my local hospital, I decided to sign up on a whim not really knowing what I was getting myself into.  The class itself was pretty demanding. We met nearly every day of the week, had scheduled ER rotations, as well as time on the actual ambulance. Class time consisted of learning important medical terminology/physiology and proper interventions/treatments.  Then, during our ER rotations and ride times we were able to appropriately apply concepts that we learned in class while working alongside doctors and other EMTs. As a biology and public health major, finding summer internships pertaining to the medical field is difficult.  By gaining my certification, I am able to get experience in the field I want to be in before I go to graduate school while also helping people.

What has been the most rewarding part of being an emergency medical technician?

Definitely helping people.  I think one of the most exciting parts of being an EMT is that you never know what you’re going to get until you arrive on scene.  That being said, whatever the call may be, I know that if I’ve helped in any way, I’ve done my job. The people you are around are also amazing.  Everyone is so passionate and caring, which is definitely something that solidified my career aspirations.

Has your sorority experience helped shape or support your professional aspirations?

Going into college, I never thought I would be in a sorority, let alone live in my sorority house.  College can be hard, especially when you’re unsure of what direction you want to go in. Not only do I have sisters within my major that will spend hours with me studying or helping me plan my schedule for the following semester, but I also have so many people there to support me no matter what the situation may be.  This past year, I was fortunate enough to live in my sorority house, Alpha Xi Delta at Syracuse University. This experience has given me one of my biggest support systems and some of my best friends. Whenever I’m doubting myself or stressed, they are always there to ground me and keep me focused and on track. Being in that type of environment really helped me through this past school year.  

What advice do you have for others trying to find their passion in college?

Finding your passion can be hard.  Speaking from my own personal experiences, I really didn’t find mine until this past school year.  My best piece of advice would be to never let fear or doubt hold you back from doing something. At Syracuse, I came in as a Biology major. My first two years at school weren’t the easiest and I always wondered if I made the wrong choice. My junior year, after getting my EMT certification, I decided to volunteer at the local hospital in the PACU and pick up a minor in public health.  I was encouraged to not do either of these things to ensure that I graduated on time, but that didn’t stop me. Now, I’m getting ready to go into my senior year with full confidence in what I want to do and accomplish following graduation.


How will the DPCL scholarship money help you in college?

The DPCL scholarship will help me both finish my education at Syracuse University and further my education in graduate school.  Currently, I am preparing to apply to nursing and physician assistant graduate programs starting in the fall. My ultimate goal following graduation at Syracuse and graduate school is to work in a critical care type setting where I can continue to help people in any way that I can.


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