The 2021 ASCLS Leadership Academy Class began their journey in May. Instead of greeting and getting to know each other face-to-face, the group met virtually for two days and then attended the virtual ASCLS & AGT Joint Annual Meeting. Virtual meetings will continue with the hope of finally meeting in Louisville in 2021 for the last event, their graduation. There are four members of the class: Ramilyn Gonzales from Waiphau, Hawaii; Ronald Lagatuz from Honolulu, Hawaii; Kyle McCafferty from Warren, Michigan; and April Shields from Littleton, Colorado.

Ramilyn Gonzales is a lab assistant specialist (LAS) in a facility that tests specimens from a large number of oncology patients. In her facility, the phlebotomist role has been expanded to include equipment maintenance and troubleshooting. Ramilyn says that “her employer’s emphasis on encouraging career growth has given her motivation to reestablish the skills I had developed as a leader, such as passion, discipline, and drive.” She has facilitated a summer leadership camp for Waipahu High School. This is an alumni-run camp tailored toward student government and class council members. The long-term goal of the camp is to implement leadership skills they can use in the organization and personal achievements.


Ronald Lagatuz began his career in clinical laboratory science as a laboratory assistant. He currently is a certified medical laboratory technician. He will be taking the medical laboratory scientist exam next year. He states he “would like to network and learn from current leaders in a laboratory setting, and I would like to add to the ASCLS presence, not only at clinical laboratories of Hawaii, but in the state of Hawaii. I started off as a laboratory assistant and worked my way up to a laboratory assistant specialist before challenging the MLT exam. In each position, because I worked the evening shift, I was placed in a position to lead and serve as a resource in the absence of supervisors and seniors. Here, I learned that the laboratory functions as a team and there must be a strong figure uniting and guiding everyone to ensure its success within the healthcare system.”

Kyle McCafferty is a medical laboratory scientist working in a large medical center. He has been involved in ASCLS-Michigan since attending his first meeting in 2016. He has been active in the society as annual conference mobile app coordinator beginning in 2017 and as the social media chair since 2019. He attended his first national meeting in 2019, which he describes as an “eye opening experience.” He indicates his knowledge and experience gained through the ASCLS Leadership Academy will allow him to use his “outside voice” and “achieve leadership roles in the Society,” as well as guide others like him to do the same.


April Shields started as a member of ASCLS 10 years ago and was elected the Colorado Student Forum representative. She continued to be involved by visiting MLS and MLT programs in Colorado while finishing school. She has attended and helped to organize the state conference every year, and for the last four years she has been secretary of ASCLS-Colorado. Three years ago, she took on the role of the student/educator liaison, which mentors the Ascending and Developing Professionals of ASCLS-Colorado and strengthens the connection between them and the educators of the different programs around the state. April has also organized the Student Poster Competition that is held each year at the ASCLS-Colorado conference.


The group is hard at work doing their first Off the Bench podcast to continue the work of the 2020 Leadership Academy class. They will soon be selecting their own project to put to work those communication and planning skills that they have read about in assigned readings, learned from speakers and videos, and discussed during monthly calls.

The application for the 2022 Leadership Academy Class will be available in November. The 2020 class and this year’s group have proven that much can be learned with the new curriculum presented in the virtual world.

Congratulations to the ASCLS Leadership Academy Class of 2021!

Suzanne Butch is a Consultant in Clinical Laboratory Quality Management in Ann Arbor, Michigan.