The Council for Academic Excellence is featuring Benton Central graduates. This month’s spotlight shines on Rachel (Hawkins) Kearby who graduated in 2000.
Q.Where do you work and what is your job:
A. I work at Ascension St. Vincent in Indianapolis and Carmel, in the NICU. I am a neonatologist – a physician who takes care of premature and sick infants, some as young as 22 weeks. I work with a great group of other neonatologists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pediatric residents and students. We take care of a wide range of babies, and we are currently the largest NICU in the state. I work days and nights and all sorts of interesting hours. I love being a part of deliveries, and caring for babies while they get big and strong enough to go home. We manage very complex babies, ventilators, precise fluid and medication calculations, work with a lot of subspecialists and more. We have long-lasting relationships with the families as well, and I love seeing our NICU graduates grow up! We certainly have sad stories as well, but I count it a privilege to help families through those tough times.
Q. Which class benefited you the most at Benton Central and why?
A. All of my science and math classes gave me a great background to enter pre-med in college, to prepare for med school. However, I have a strong creative side and really enjoyed my electives and the interesting and creative things I was able to do and learn in those classes. The classes and teachers that stick out to me the most were my French teacher, Madame Asari, and also Art teachers Mrs. Bridget Santon & Mr. Dennis Massey. I had my art on display at an art museum in Lafayette during high school. French is such an interesting language and culture that I’m so glad I learned all about it, but I’m still glad I didn’t try the escargots in class! I also enjoyed choir and was able to go on and participate in musicals while I was in college. These more fun and relaxing classes really made the school days enjoyable, and they are skills and interests I’ve been able to carry well into adulthood. These are also interests I see being passed to my daughters. My 8 year old is quite the singer and loves to draw, and my 9th grader is already an impressive artist who has her art on display at her high school – it brings back very good memories!
Q. How did you know what you wanted to do after graduating from BC…or what was the process for you to get where you are today?
A. Lots and lots of schooling! I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a doctor but didn’t dream I’d end up being a critical care doctor in a huge NICU! I completed 4 years of college, 4 years of med school at Indiana University, 3 years of pediatric residency at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent, and then 3 years of NICU fellowship at Riley Hospital for Children. Along the way there were countless exams and certifications, and it’s definitely true that medicine involves life-long learning. Once my training was completed I returned to St. Vincent and have been here ever since. It was a long road of schooling and grueling training, but it was definitely worth it for me and I love my job.
Q. Tell us about a favorite BC memory.
A. One of the best things I did in high school was participating in the Rhythmettes Dance team for 4 years – it was a great community to belong to and kept me active, and we always had something to look forward to. Of course Mrs. Kuckartz was an amazing role model and taught us all so much! My favorite part about Rhythmettes was being part of the group every year. Each year we would have new members, and it was fun to step into a more leadership role during the last 2 years of high school. I have so many good memories of Friday night football games, Saturday night basketball halftime performances, after school practices, team sleepovers, and our yearly competitions at King’s Island. I really was so lucky to be a part of it for those years.
Q. What is something you are proud to have accomplished since graduating from BC?
A. I am most proud of raising my two amazing daughters – Selah is a 9th grader at Carmel High School and Willow is a 3rd grader in Carmel as well. Maintaining work-life balance is not always easy as any parent knows! They’ve seen me go through training and see the ups and downs of my job, and I hope they learn that anything they want to do, they can make it happen with a little work and dedication. Even though I sometimes work tough hours, they know they are my #1 priority. They’ve given me a parent’s perspective which helps me be more empathetic, and real-life parenting experience is very helpful when taking care of kids of any age. I’m very thankful for them and can’t wait to see what they choose to do with their careers.