Major: Physical Therapist Assistant
After a 30-year career as a vice president at AON Insurance in Chicago, Joyce Webb enrolled in College of DuPage’s Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program and never looked back.
“In college I majored in business and then fell into the corporate insurance world,” she said. “I always had a passion for physical therapy and fitness, but I let that dream slip away the more established I became in my career.”
On Sept. 11, 2001, Webb lost 176 colleagues in AON’s New York City office. Just when she thought things could not get any worse, her husband, a New York City firefighter at the time, lost more than two dozen coworkers.
“The unspeakable tragedy brought into focus just how short life can be,” she said. “I really started to question what I was doing with my life. I loved my job and my coworkers, but the idea of helping someone, one-on-one, was something that I always yearned for in the workplace.”
At the time, however, becoming a physical therapist required five or more years of schooling, and the PTA role was not an accredited profession. Webb continued to work at AON but started volunteering in her spare time to fill the void she was feeling.
In October of 2016, Webb’s sister suffered a massive stroke and spent many months in rehab to regain mobility. Blown away by the passionate care her sister received and the progress she was making with the physical therapy assistants’ help, Webb was inspired to make the jump into the profession.
As she discovered, COD offers many degrees and certificates that can help adults advance in their careers or explore a new path.
“Despite living in Glen Ellyn most of my adult life, I had no idea COD offered so many programs that allow you to make a career change in only a few years,” she said. “Years of physical therapy school was not feasible for me, but when I found out there was a prestigious PTA program right in my back yard, I realized, as an assistant, I could make just as much of an impact on someone’s life. COD has one of the best programs in the nation and offers a diverse array of clinical partners.”
Webb worried that she might be too old to qualify for the program, but COD’s counselors assured her that age wasn’t a factor in their selection and encouraged her to apply. She was accepted into the program after fulfilling prerequisites and began classes a few months later.
“College isn’t what it used to be 30 years ago,” she said. “The technological advances had me overwhelmed, but the professors and students in my class were extremely helpful and supportive. They made my transition back to school seamless.”
COD has one of the best programs in the nation and offers a diverse array of clinical partners.
Now that her second education is finished, Webb is a physical therapist assistant at Thrive of Lisle, a short-term rehab care center. In 2023, she also began working as a PTA in a hospital setting for Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva.
“The flexibility of the career is very attractive, allowing me to work at multiple facilities and select the hours that work for me and my employers,” she said.
Webb is glad that she turned to COD to prepare for her new career.
“College of DuPage is a hidden gem for adults,” she said. “This goes to show that at any age, people can reinvent themselves and start new careers. For anyone feeling stuck or needing a change, I urge you to explore all that COD has to offer.”