Student Spotlight: Thomas Fairbank

Thomas Fairbank

Thomas Fairbank
Major: Transfer

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 was an absolutely wonderful place for me to learn the foundational science skills I need. I found the instructors here were very supportive of their students and fascinating on an intellectual level. In addition, I was glad that I could easily, and cheaply, enroll at COD.”

Fairbank also earned the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship to help pay for his COD education. He transferred to Northwestern University and completed a variety of internships: one at a Maryland hospital in a rehabilitation department with neurological, orthopedic, and medically challenging patients; an acute care internship in Colorado that focused on orthopedic patients post-surgery; one at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago’s Spine and Sports Rehabilitation Center; and one at Vanguard West Suburban Medical Center.

In 2014, Fairbank graduated as a doctor of physical therapy.

“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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