MCCC Alumnus Barbara Vees Dives Into New Career
Alumna Barbara Vees (far right) returned to campus In December to lead an aquatics therapy session with MCCC Physical Therapy Assistant students.
Mercer PTA Program Coordinator Barbara Behrens (left) assists alumna Barbara Vees during an aquatics therapy session on the Mercer campus.
WEST WINDSOR – For Mercer County Community College (MCCC) alumnus Barbara Vees ’12 (AAS Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA), AS Exercise Science), completing her degree was no walk in the park – but her subsequent career is a daily dip in the pool.
Vees made the most of her PTA degree from Mercer. After passing her national PTA board licensing, she went on to earn her aquatics certification. She currently works at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, specializing in aquatic therapy.
“I’ve always been a water person from a very young age,” Vees said. “I volunteered to work with autistic children, and I saw how they responded in water. It was just a natural fit for me.”
Vees recently returned to Mercer to lead an aquatic therapy session with current PTA students, demonstrating techniques that enable the physical rehabilitation of patients using the comfort and healing power of water.
Vees found her way to Mercer in 2009, in search of a career change and an education path that would allow her to continue working and attend to family responsibilities. Formerly employed in the information technology field, Vees enrolled at Mercer after a horse riding accident left her with a herniated disc. She took a keen interest in her subsequent physical therapy sessions, and decided to devote her career to helping others regain strength and mobility.
“Once you have been through physical therapy, you understand what people are going through,” Vees said. “I was in my fifties, and I felt that becoming a physical therapist assistant was a reasonable, attainable goal.”
Vees had to wait an extra year for a slot to open up in the PTA program, but she made the most of it. She enrolled in the Exercise Science program, earning a degree and gaining valuable insight and skills into her new career in physical therapy.
“The two fields go hand-in-hand,” Vees said. “It was the perfect fit.”
Vees said she initially chose Mercer based on convenient scheduling that allowed her to continue working and tend to family obligations. But as a student, she discovered many other advantages to attending classes at MCCC.
“Balancing work, school, and home was a challenge,” Vees said. “But overall, the quality of the education at Mercer was very good; the small classes and personal attention were a plus. And as an older student, I enjoyed the diverse student population.”
Vees was an active member of the college community, particularly in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and serving as president of the PTA class of 2012. She continues to embrace her Mercer education, as evidenced by her recent return to campus to instruct and counsel future PTA graduates, and encourage them to pursue their career goals.
“I tell students to set realistic goals, work hard, and be patient,” Vees said. “It takes time to achieve your goals, but it is worth the effort if you find a career path that makes you happy.”
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