Tamelia Orellana – New Century Workforce Scholarship Award

Tamelia Orellana Photo

Tamelia Orellana

New Century Workforce Scholarship Award

“I feel so confident that God will use me in patients’ time of need just as the sonographer helped me so many years ago.”

When Tamelia Orellana was told by her doctor it was likely her unborn child had down syndrome and possibly spina bifida, she was terrified not knowing what to expect. But instead of giving up on her baby, Orellana decided she needed to see her baby girl on an ultrasound. At the diagnostic clinic, entering the dark room with eyes swollen from tears, Orellana was met by a gentle and kind sonographer who explained there was just a chance her baby would be fine. As Orellana describes, “the ultrasound looked perfect. Oh, her cheeks were so fat and beautiful in the scan. 10 fingers and 10 toes. To me, the black and white version of her melted my heart and nothing would stop me from having her.” Although repeated ultrasounds showed the baby deformed, Orellana’s faith and the prayers of her community kept her strong. Later that year, she gave birth to a healthy, beautiful baby girl “who had no defects or down syndrome.”

After completing her GED online, with her baby girl on her lap, Orellana began school at Rockingham Community College. Although she initially wanted to be an art teacher, Orellana felt strongly led to pursue a degree in sonography. Orellana admits it took her a long time to complete her prerequisites for the program. Along the way “she got sidetracked by a custody battle, had another baby, faced cancer and the new baby had surgery.” As a single mother she sometimes worked two jobs. To be fair, Orellana needed to take some breaks along the way. But her determination carried her and, with support from her boss and friends in the community, Orellana graduated with high honors and the requirements necessary to apply to the ultrasound program at Forsyth Tech.  According to Orellana, only 8 applicants were chosen out of the hundreds that applied that year.

Leaving Rockingham county was bittersweet. She loved her community and had to say goodbye “to one of the best bosses” she ever had. But she remembered, “I put all my effort into making sure I got through this vigorous program in order to help someone else who may face the very same things I also had to endure. I did this to encourage some mother out there who may come into my ultrasound room in tears. I feel so confident that God will use me in patients’ time of need just as the sonographer helped me so many years ago.”

Since coming to Forsyth Tech Community College, both the family cars broke down, her husband moved to part-time to help with the youngest, and they share one laptop and a shattered tablet. They still struggle with health issues and Orellana mainly studied at night since her daughter needed the computer during the day. But as the recipient of the New Century Workforce Scholarship, Orellana observes that “through every financial crisis God came through at the right time!”

Orellana is no stranger to sonography, including watching her first baby with her husband wane through serial ultrasounds before dying; witnessing the miracle of her son, Evan, fight a failing heart and survive; and herself beating cancer twice and recovering from heart failure. Orellana says she is “just like a sword beaten and put through the fire” to help others in their time of need. Through her journey and perseverance, Orellana firmly believes she is prepared both professionally and personally to comfort fearful and uncertain patients as they enter her sonogram room.


If you are interested in learning more about the Medical Sonography program at Forsyth Tech, please go to our  website at  https://www.forsythtech.edu/courses-programs/degrees/programs-a-z/medical-sonography/

Course work includes effective communication and patient care skills combined with knowledge of physics, human anatomy, physiology and pathology, all of which are essential to obtaining high quality sonographic images.