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meet some very interesting people, including Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, also known as Dr. Now, made famous by the television show My 600-lb Life. “I met Dr. Now at St. Joseph Hospital in Houston. I was able to work right beside him. It was so awesome to meet someone not only famous, but to really work with them. I remember I kept telling myself if I had never traveled, I would probably have never experienced this. It was an absolute honor. He says he has also met and worked beside surgeons who invented different types of surgical instruments as well as equipment designed for the operating rooms. Burgin is quick to give credit to the many people who encouraged and helped him along the way as he was preparing for his career. “My family means so much to me,” he said. “My Mom was an incredible woman. She passed away in 2016 from cancer. She taught me to never give up and always try to be thoughtful of others no matter what. She will always be my biggest love and supporter. I am such a Mama’s boy! I remember telling my mom that it’s hard not having money while in college and I don’t have a car to get to clinicals. I was blessed to have one of my classmates, Veronica, to take me to and from my clinicals whenever she could. I also remember Mrs. Shirley taking her own money and giving it to me to give to Veronica for gas money. I was so shocked and just so grateful for both of my instructors.” With tears in his eyes, Burgin added, “It was during that time I was thinking about dropping out of the program and Mrs. Shirley was like ‘No, no, no. You are going to finish this program.’ All of these individuals were my guardian angels and still are.” Shirley said of Burgin, “He has always had the best outlook on life even in difficult times. I remember he had some hard times as a student financially. He always kept his positive outlook on life. He was a very hard worker as a student. No matter what you may ask him to do he was always willing to give his best. This can-do

getting to that interview. My dad’s car broke down a week before, but he was more determined than I was to make sure I went. His nephew was able to drive us to ECCC which is a two-and- a-half hour drive from my home. I remember talking to Mrs. Shirley and Mrs. Pilgrim and I just knew within my heart I was in the right place. I just knew from that moment ECCC would be my home away from home.” Burgin knew from an early age he wanted to work in a profession in which he could make a difference in the lives of others. He said he found that opportunity as a surgical technologist. “I chose to become a surgical technologist because I knew that this would really impact the lives of people. I still to this day love that I am able to help others. There is something so special about this career. It is definitely stressful at times, but that doesn’t matter because I am able to help other people.” At the time of this writing, Burgin was on assignment as a traveling surgical technologist in Albany, N.Y. After a six-week stint, he will return to his home in Florida. He said he enjoys traveling around the country because he is able to see and learn other ways to do things in the operating room. Traveling is something new for Burgin who admitted that he had never left the state Mississippi before he started his career. “Allowing myself to travel has helped me to grow and learn so many different things. The first thing people say is ‘Oh did you start traveling because you could make more money?’ My reply is ‘Absolutely not.’ I actually made less on my very first travel assignment than I did when I was permanently employed in one place. I started traveling because I wanted to see many more operating rooms and I wanted to learn more and grow stronger with my skills. I knew eventually I would make more money but it was never the reason I started traveling.” In addition to seeing new places and learning new techniques of his trade, traveling has also allowed Burgin to

Columbus native Terrance Burgin knew he wanted a career in the medical field, but it wasn’t until he took a medical technology class during high school that he fell in love with surgery. While attending Columbus High School, Burgin learned about a two-year vocational course for sophomores and juniors from his sister, Kisha Burgin McGregory, who had earlier taken the class. “This program allowed us as tenth and eleventh graders to job shadow several different careers within the hospitals. I fell in love with the surgery department! It sounds silly, but even the smell of the Bovie ( the brand name of an instrument used for electrosurgical dissection and hemostasis) was so amazing to me. I remember like yesterday running home and telling my mom and dad I wanted to work in the operating room.” Burgin said his parents were both very supportive and encouraging and so he began to research different colleges and universities. He said East Central was the one that he kept coming back to. “I saw on the ECCC website information about the Surgical Technology Program and was certain that I wanted to at least give this a try. Once again, my mom and dad were definitely my biggest supporters.” After applying for the program, Burgin was scheduled to interview with instructors LeAnn Shirley and Kristie Pilgrim. Pilgrim said, “When I think about Terrance, all these years later, I still picture his smile, laugh and kindness that lights up a room! He absolutely loves what he does, and it shows. He has often told me how thankful he is for having the opportunity to attend our Surgical Technology Program. I know that he has faced many trials in his short life, but he overcame and persevered through every one of them. He has such determination to do well and really try hard.” One such trial he faced was simply making it to that first interview. “I will never forget the struggle of


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