Student Success: Reinventing Yourself as a 40-Something
Gerry Cordutsky was in his early 40s when he was laid off from his job as an electrical engineer.
“There were not a whole lot of opportunities in my niche area,” he says. “I needed to reinvent myself. I wanted something I would be interested in and that there was a market for.”
Pharmacology fit his interests and his specifications for a new career.
Researching a new career.
So he met with an advisor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Colorado-Denver to see what he needed to do and to outline the pre-pharmacy courses he would need. He also visited the Regis University School of Pharmacy.
Advisors told him he needed 60 credits, mostly in the sciences – biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and microbiology.
“I realized that I could get most if not all of those credits at FRCC,” he says. “The advisor said CU-Denver had a good relationship with FRCC and would accept FRCC credits. I got the same impression with Regis University. There were no issues that the credits would transfer and be recognized. This says something about the classes at FRCC having to meet the standards of the graduate schools of pharmacy.”
FRCC’s classes were academically rigorous.
“That was surprising to me,” he says. “But they had to be intense to be recognized by CU-Denver and Regis.
“My experience at FRCC was outstanding,” Gerry says. “I was challenged by the quality and intensity of the classroom curriculum, and I was certainly impressed by the knowledge and dedication of the instructors, especially in the chemistry and biology disciplines. Most instructors had Ph.D.s. All instructors had an interest in me as a student—they wanted me to succeed. The staff showed a commitment and personal attention that is lacking at most four-year schools. Upon first entering FRCC, I didn’t know what to expect from a ‘community college’ – I was pleasantly surprised.”
Of all his instructors, Gerry recalls Dr. Elizabeth Randolph, who taught Biology 111.
“She was great, an awesome instructor,” he says. “She was very approachable. She knew her material, and she has real-world experience. After class, we spoke at length about class subjects or other subjects related to biology. We still keep in touch.”
With pre-pharmacy credits completed, Gerry enrolled at the Regis University School of Pharmacy in fall 2012. It’s a four-year program, and one of only two in the nation that uses team-based learning. “You work with other students the entire semester,” he says.
Gerry interacted with students in his classes at FRCC, so he is used to team-based learning. “As an older student,” he says, “I certainly never felt left out. I was welcomed by students and faculty. Some congratulated me on reinventing myself.”
There was another reason he was attracted to Regis. “At Regis, like FRCC, I could see the rapport between faculty and students. It reminded me of my FRCC days.”
As he begins his pharmacy studies, Gerry thinks research and development might be the area to which he aspires. “Pharmacy has evolved so that it’s more than just medicines and their interactions,” he says. “Pharmacy involves total patient care. You converse, understand, and interact with the whole health-care profession.”