Tyler and Zack Gray didn't intend to make radiologic sciences a family tradition. It just kind of fell into place for the brothers.
However, their decisions weren't nearly as random as the choice of careers was for their father, Dr. Mark Gray, associate dean for academic affairs and associate professor of radiologic sciences at the University of Mississippi School of Health Related Professions.
At age 17, Gray was sitting in high school English when the teacher asked the class, “What are you going to do with the rest of your life when you finish high school?”
“I didn't know, but the girl sitting in front of me, I asked her, and she said 'I'm going to radiologic technology school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. You should go,'” Gray said.
He took her advice, and the decision was a wise one. Gray was accepted into the program at 17, finished at 19 and was teaching as a clinical instructor in the radiologic technology program at 20. All the while he worked, Gray continued his education, receiving his doctorate in his 40s.
Tyler, 18 months older than Zack, said he never thought as a kid, “I want to be in radiologic science like my dad.” He was playing football at Ole Miss when an injury put an end to his focus on the sport.
“I started looking into the medical field and thinking about what Dad and my mom had been doing,” he said. “The more I thought about it, the more I felt like it was the right thing for me to do.” Mom, Melissa, who is now retired, worked at UMMC for 10 years as a mammography technologist.
Tyler said his dad was hesitant about this decision. “It's not that he didn't want me to go,” Tyler said. “He wanted to make sure I wasn't just following in his footsteps, that it was what I truly wanted to do.
Tyler didn't stop with the Bachelor of Science in Radiological Sciences program. He will receive his Master of Science in Magnetic Resonance Imaging at Friday's commencement. Since the program was transitioned from a baccalaureate certificate degree, he is in the first classes to receive a master's in MRI.
Zack thought at first that he wanted to be a nurse. He was taking classes at Hinds Community College when he decided it wasn't for him. He contemplated dropping school to enter the workforce, but his dad encouraged him to “pick something and go with it. It might not be what you want right now, but doors will open.”
“I knew that Dad, being who he was in the profession, opened a lot of doors for me. I saw that Tyler was enjoying [the program],” Zack said. “I liked it a lot more than I thought I would.” After summer, he will begin to work towards his master's degree in the MRI program, following in his brother's footsteps.