Student Spotlight: Thomas Fairbank

Thomas Fairbank

Thomas Fairbank
Major: Transfer
Hometown: Glen Ellyn

When Thomas Fairbank was laid off from his job as a middle school social studies teacher, he decided to change careers.

"I was not the only teacher to be laid off in 2010," he said. "I competed with hundreds of other candidates for the few jobs left in Illinois. Despite three years of experience, I did not get another job. So I began searching for new careers I could do and decided on physical therapy."

But before he could enter a PT program, he needed to finish some classes first. So he turned to College of DuPage.

"Since my bachelor's degree is in History, I needed to attend COD to complete my science prerequisites for Physical Therapy school," said Fairbank, who began taking a full load of classes in fall 2010. "COD has been an absolutely wonderful place for me to learn the foundational science skills I need. I found the instructors here are very supportive of their students and fascinating on an intellectual level. In addition, I am glad that I can easily, and cheaply, enroll at COD."

Fairbank also earned the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship in 2011 to help pay for his COD education. He is currently finishing his second year of physical therapy school at Northwestern University while taking advantage of many internship opportunities. In summer 2012, he completed an internship at a Maryland hospital in a rehabilitation department with neurological, orthopedic, and medically challenging patients. In spring 2013, he finished an acute care internship in Colorado that focused on orthopedic patients post-surgery. In fall 2013, he will be at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's Spine and Sports Rehabilitation Center, and in spring 2014 he will be at Vanguard West Suburban Medical Center for his final two internships.

In April 2014, Fairbank plans to graduate as a doctor of physical therapy. He hopes to work at an outpatient clinic in the Chicago area.

"I would encourage others to look into health care as a career," he said. "This is a growing field with meaningful and rewarding work. I am excited for my future and thankful that COD helped me get there."

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