Student Spotlight: Jeffrey Williams
Major: Respiratory Care
Hometown: Western Suburbs
(Written by Jeffrey Williams, a former journalist who studied respiratory therapy at College of DuPage)
" 'Why go from a career in journalism to health care?' people frequently ask me without missing a beat.
"My answer is usually equally direct: The careers are not all that different, I reply. Each has a steep learning curve, is demanding but challenging, and possesses the power to transform lives.
"During more than two decades in media, I also was the parent of a daughter who struggled with asthma. I spent many sleepless nights in the ER, hoping and praying she would recover, and she always did. As consistent as her attacks was the presence of someone with sage advice, quick action and patience. That person was her respiratory therapist.
"When newspapers began fighting for their survival, as my daughter had so often, my departure became imminent. I decided that for my second act, I'd choose a career that could benefit others, as I'd been helped so many times in the ER.
"But I didn't want to go to school just anywhere: I wanted to learn from the very best, those with a wealth of classroom and clinical experience. After meeting the program's coordinator, Denise Kruckenberg, and clinical coordinator, Charles Vanderwarf, and learning about COD's highly competitive program, I knew it would be the best training ground for me. Their candid, welcoming styles convinced me that I'd get the attention I needed after returning to college in midlife, nearly 25 years after receiving a graduate degree.
"My initial feelings about them proved correct time and again during a trying first semester. Still, I received the support needed to excel in the program and in the field after graduation.
"I am now gainfully employeed as a Respiratory Therapist II at Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove. I was hired about two weeks after graduation (May 2011) and haven't looked back. I've since passed my CRT and RRT exams and I have my COD training to thank for my new career. Denise Kruckenberg and Charlie Vanderwarf are the best!
"With the rising incidence of asthma, I'd like to develop a specialty in the treatment and prevention of asthma, as well as educate patients and their families about the condition. Long term, I may blend my journalism background and health career, possibly writing articles on asthma research and other respiratory issues.
"For those who find themselves adrift in their careers, I'm proof positive that it's never too late to make a change. And schools like COD are precisely the place to do it."