Program: Surgical Technology
Kathy Cabai originally went to school to become a teacher. But when she was unable to find a job, she returned to school and became an operating room nurse.
"Surgery and anatomy and physiology really interest me," she said. "As a nursing student, I spent three days in the operating room and knew then that I had to find an operating room job.
"I spent my first six years working at a hospital where I scrubbed on any and all cases, the bigger the better. Helping reconstruct people and helping them get their feet back on the ground are what I was all about and still am. I really felt that the operating room was a place where I could actually see I was making a difference for patients -- taking out tumors, putting joints back together, putting tubes in children's ears."
Cabai spent 24 years working in the operating room and also was Director of Nursing at the Elmhurst Outpatient Surgery Center, a facility she started from the ground floor. When the opportunity came up to teach at College of DuPage, she saw it as a perfect way to combine her love of both teaching and being an operating room nurse.
"I always felt I would be an excellent teacher because I always enjoyed teaching and helping others learn," she said. "I taught swimming and coached many children. I really feel that teaching is much like coaching: We help others excel to the greatest of their abilities."
Helping to guide Cabai from an early age were her parents, both professionals who she describes as having moral and ethical beliefs that are instilled in her. What now inspires her is seeing students succeed and reach their goals.
"If your career leads you down a path you do not like, you will not be happy nor good at what you do," she said. "Life is too short and it is important to enjoy and love it. If you want it, you are capable of achieving it."