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Radiography student to follow in grandfather’s footsteps

Monday, June 27, 2022

Radiography student to follow in grandfather’s footsteps

Image: Radiography student to follow in grandfather’s footsteps

Hope Perry, 24, of Chippewa Falls, will graduate on July 17 from Chippewa Valley Technical College with an associate degree in radiography and is set to work in the same hospital and department her grandfather worked in 21 years ago.

Hope Perry remembers visiting her grandpa Oral Perry at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls as he led the imaging team.

Her grandfather would pull Wrigley’s Doublemint gum from his desk drawer and hand her a stick covered in shiny silver wrapping.

“He made enough of an impact on me to remember little things about him,” Hope said.

She was almost 4 when he died.

There was no way for him to know that 21 years later his granddaughter would follow in his footsteps. On July 17, Hope will graduate with an associate degree in radiography from Chippewa Valley Technical College, and she’s been hired at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Journey of Hope

Hope was young when Oral died, but she remembers the sadness.

“I don’t think I comprehended it that well,” she said. “I remember everyone was crying. I didn’t understand, and then I learned he had a heart attack when he was jogging.”

Ray Myers, a former assistant administrator at St. Joseph’s Hospital who is now retired, said Oral would go for a run during his lunch breaks most days.

On May 7, 2001, Oral didn’t return to work from his jog. He had been a part of the hospital family for 40 years and planned to retire at the end of 2001.

As Hope grew, she continued to learn about her grandfather and his passion for his family and his career.

Myers, Oral’s supervisor, said he was a family man.

“Oral had this pick-up truck with a camper in the back,” Myers said. “He used to get so excited about taking the grandkids camping. He lived for that.”

He also was an advocate for student interns. While most people were in too much of a hurry for students, Oral would fight to have them, Myers said.

“He would come and talk to administration about why we should have them,” he said. “He helped pave the way. Little did he know he would be paving the way for his own granddaughter.”

Hope graduated from Chippewa Falls Senior High School in 2015 and began the radiography program at CVTC in August 2020.

Her dad told her about her grandfather’s work as director of radiology at St. Joseph’s. Oral’s son, Hope’s uncle, is also in the field.

That didn’t necessarily sway her decision about the future, but she’s proud of her family members who committed to the medical profession before her.

She began chipping away at her degree in radiography five months after the world stopped because of Covid-19.

“It was really hard,” Hope said. “But it got better. You adjust around it. You have to be flexible. You learn to adapt.”

She took classes remotely and managed the huge curve of learning to help heal others without being in the same space as classmates and instructors.

But Covid itself doesn’t daunt her. Healing the sick is her mission.

“It’s going to be my job to be there for those people – to take care of them no matter what,” she said. “We’re meant to handle these things.”

Months ago, as Hope could see the educational finish line, she applied to work at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital. Her family’s history was not lost on her.

Now Hope, 24, of Chippewa Falls, is working as a technical aid in the hospital. As soon as she graduates, she will apply for state certification and begin her career in the same department her grandfather oversaw.

“I feel really honored to follow in (my grandfather’s) footsteps,” she said. “I’m so excited to be in the same hospital he was, doing the same thing.”

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