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Full Circle: Graduate returns to work at hospital where she was a patient

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Full Circle

Emilee AginMSC Southeast graduate returns to work at hospital where she was once a patient

When she was in high school, Emilee Agin suffered a very serious traumatic brain injury in a car accident. Following several weeks in a coma, she spent two months in the inpatient rehabilitation unit at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Rochester, re-learning everything from how to talk to how to walk.

Now 22 years old, she is back at the rehab unit every day, but not as a patient. She has returned to the facility as a Health Unit Coordinator (HUC). Today she works side-by-side with some of the same nurses and doctors who once took care of her.

Emilee earned her HUC certificate at Minnesota State College Southeast, graduating in Spring of 2015. She started out by taking general education classes in Winona, because she really didn't know what major she wanted to pursue. "Then I got the idea for the HUC program, and it was a good fit for me," she says. 

As a HUC, she's the first person you see when you enter the rehab unit. She provides administrative support for the nursing station, handles admissions and discharges, orders supplies for the unit, and helps patients get items that they need. 

There are usually between 20 and 40 patients being cared for in the rehab unit, undergoing occupational, physical and recreational therapy. Emilee's unique background can be an inspiration to patients and their families. "If they're having a bad day I'll go talk to them and share my story," she says. 

Why MSC Southeast?

Emilee Agin (2017)Emilee was drawn to MSC Southeast because it is a small campus. "Honestly, I didn't think I could handle a 4-year college, and I was worried about finding a school that would work for me." 

Happily, she found a positive environment at MSC Southeast. "I loved the teachers - Patty, Becky and Brenda - and really bonded with them. They were so helpful and made accommodations for me because of my brain injury. For example, they let me take my tests in a separate room by myself so there would be no distractions."

Small class sizes helped her focus more on her studies and connect with the other students who were working on the same projects that she was. She also enjoyed serving in Student Senate and working in the college bookstore.

What would Emilee say to someone who has to overcome challenges to attend college? 

"I would tell them you can only be yourself, and always remember people are willing to help you if you need it."




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