Frank Sochacki was familiar with City Colleges of Chicago even before he began classes at Malcolm X College.

He started taking prerequisite courses at Wright College in 1998 to pursue nursing and advance his medical career, but a change in his employment status put that dream on hold. In the meantime, he made a transition from medical assisting to physical therapy.

While working in the world of physical therapy as a technician, Frank got a call that Malcolm X College was starting a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program. Program leaders were looking for clinical instruction sites where students could gain hands-on experience—and soon after, Frank’s workplace became one of those sites. Through the experience, he got an up-close look at what students were doing and learning in class, and he also got to learn more about the program as a whole.

So, when the new cohort of PTA students began courses at Malcolm X in May 2020, Frank was among them. The pandemic made the program a bit more challenging, but Frank says the students leaned on each other for support, and the instructors were readily available to help students navigate any challenges.

“They were available to an amazing extent,” Frank said. “They would often respond after hours. They would respond to questions on the weekends. They were just as invested in us as we were in pursuing the education.”

Frank was also invested in his peers and their success. He was recruited by a faculty member to become a student tutor, which taught him how to break down complex ideas and concepts, and explain them in a way that others could understand.

Those skills are being put to good use at Fox Valley Orthopedics, where Frank is now working as a Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant. He recently overheard a patient say that they liked scheduling with him because he does a good job explaining the patient’s treatment and progress in a way that’s simple to understand.

As he enjoys making one-on-one connections with patients and witnessing their mobility improve each week, Frank looks back fondly at his time at Malcolm X. He says it led to his dream career and positively impacted his future.

“I feel like I made the best choice… period.”

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