Giovanna is now known as KE2COQ!!!!!

Article By:  Melva Olson, KE2BJU
Editor:  Bonnie Kelium

Sometimes the old saying “the third time’s the charm” is true, other times “the seventh time’s the charm” applies. Add a big dose of diligent studying to that charm and the result just might be a new amateur radio operator.

Our 22-year-old neighbor in upstate New York, Giovanna Dooley, loves to go places with my husband, Harry, and me, so one weekend last summer we invited her along to our local amateur radio club’s annual field day.

I had provided respite care to Giovanna since she was 12, so she was comfortable with us and even called us Grammy and Papa.

Giovanna’s developmental traumatic brain injury doesn’t get in the way of her enjoyment of new experiences, and she was excited about the day’s planned outing.

Unfortunately, the field day was canceled at the last minute due to the threat of thunderstorms.

Giovanna was so disappointed that I called other area clubs to see if anyone else was having a field day, and was thrilled to find one in a nearby town.

One of the first people we spoke with at the field day, Paul Borst WK2Q of Schenectady, NY, invited Giovanna to go on the high frequency radio with him. Under Paul’s direction Giovanna made five contacts for the club, and was immediately hooked on amateur radio!

Giavanna at the mic! Credit: Melva Olson, KE2BJU

Later in the day Glenn Cooper W2BK (“Welcome to Burger King”) of Albany, NY, asked her to consider studying for the technician exam.  Glenn teaches amateur radio locally and felt Giovanna could pass the exam. He suggested that I get flashcards to help her study. I immediately ordered 400 flash cards from Amazon, and filled them with questions about Ohm’s Law, Calculating, Introduction to Electrical Components—all those good things radio operators need to know!

After months of using the flashcards and online study programs at my house, Giovanna was averaging 85% – 91% on the home study tests. She decided in December that she was ready to take the exam.

Taking the test twice at a local museum resulted in failure both times. Giovanna said she was so anxious during the test that she thought her heart would jump out of her chest!

If she was going to pass this test, I knew that I had to think of a way to put her at ease…….she knew the material, and had done so well on the study tests when she took them at my kitchen table…….

Because I had lived in Alaska three times in my life, I knew that Anchorage Alaska Amateur Radio Club had a remote testing program.  Giovanna and I contacted them, and soon she was scheduled to take her technician test with them. And it would take place at my kitchen table, where she had learned the tech material and felt confident!

When test day finally arrived, her anxiety flared up and she did not pass. Two subsequent tries also resulted in failure. We were all terribly disappointed, but her V.E. Team was so kind and encouraging—and Giovanna was so determined–that she scheduled herself for another test two days later. This girl is not a quitter!

When the evening of January 22, 2024 arrived, we discovered that JD Delancey W1JD of Maryland had arranged an all-female team which included some women Giovanna knew from her last exam. That helped to bring her stress levels down for her seventh attempt at the exam.

She sat down to my kitchen table with a positive attitude and some nervousness, yet she felt that this was going to be her night of success.

After the exam, the team told her to bring her friends back into the room to see her test results. The computer screen then flashed the verdict to us …..You PASSED!!

Giovanna is now known as KE2COQ, proof positive that persistence pays off!