Jay Wynn joined the Marine Corps straight out of high school. He decided on this branch of the armed services, he said, because “I liked the way people looked at them. No one looks at a Marine and says he has it easy.” It was tough – for 13 years – but Wynn had the opportunity to live in Okinawa, Japan, and travel the world as a loadmaster on a KC-130, which transported everything from “band aids to bullets,” and sometimes, wounded soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq.
He learned that hard work paid off, that sacrifices were often worthwhile, and that “When you do the right thing, you’re not wrong. When I was young – 17, 18, 19 – I thought I knew it all. The Marine Corps helped me because there was always someone the age I am now, 39, running beside me. It made me want to be like that guy. I had mentors to look up to, and there was no way but to respect them. It took a lot of cockiness out of me.”
He has brought that drive to Jefferson College as a Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) student, with eyes on graduating on May 9, 2014. He entered as an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) student, but had the chance to shadow a PTA and an OTA in an acute care setting and decided to switch majors. He is well suited to this track, as he was a personal trainer in the Marine Corps at one point. He discovered through that job how to find out what motivated people, and has his eyes on working at the VA Hospital in Roanoke – “I am very good at helping people who want to be helped,” he said.
School is not something that Wynn embraces, but he knows, again from the Marine Corps, that nothing is handed to you, and his maturity and experience have helped see him through the semesters, as has the post 9/11 GI Bill®. “It’s a sacrifice that will pay off,” he said.
In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employment of physical therapist assistants is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations (increase 43% percent) through the year 2020. The 2012 PTA employment rate from Jefferson College within six month was 100%.
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