Posted by Jim Haverstick on March 8, 2018

Rebecca Herrin had been a stay-at-home mom for years. She felt something was missing and wanted to provide for her family. While deciding what that “something” was, Herrin began taking general education classes at Southwestern Illinois College.

After reviewing the Respiratory Care program at SWIC, Rebecca knew instantly that was the program for her.

“I knew I wanted to do something to not only help people, but comfort them as well,” said Herrin.

Herrin, 36, earned her Associate in Applied Science Degree in Respiratory Care in 2017. Today, she is a Registered Respiratory Therapist at Christian Northeast Hospital in St. Louis and is currently studying for her Adult Critical Care Specialist Certification.

She and her husband, Kenny, live in Cottage Hills, Ill., and have three sons: Lucas, 16, Jacob, 12, and Nathan, 11.

Herrin chose SWIC to achieve her educational goals, while attending to her family life because of SWIC’s many resources, instructors, excellent reputation, reviews and pass rates for the Respiratory Care program.

“SWIC has incredible instructors who go the extra mile to make sure you have all the tools you need to succeed,” she said. “My instructors really cared about me and my grades. They wanted every student to succeed.”

One of the things that really helped her when studying was the Success Center, which is open for tutoring or rooms available for group studying, she said.

Herrin’s advice for anyone who wants to go back to school to achieve their education or dream job is to: “put your mind to it and don’t let anything stop you! Accomplishing this was very important to me so I stayed focused. Being organized is key for setting your foundation for success.”

In her role as a respiratory therapist, she works with vented patients, blood gases and breathing treatments. Being able to comfort patients that require life support due to trauma, illness, disease or surgery is what Herrin enjoys most. She manages patients’ ventilation and coaches them through breathing trials, so they can eventually breathe independently.

Herrin attributes her educational success at SWIC to several key factors such as the real-world experiences achieved through the clinical rotation portion of the Respiratory Care program; meeting professionals within the industry at events to gain insight and connections; and learning to communicate within professional environments.

“If you feel overwhelmed, start small with a class or two,” she said. “I was scared to death going to college thinking I would be the oldest person in all my classes and starting small with just two classes helped ease me into a whole new world.”

SWIC offers a two-year Associate in Applied Science Degree in Respiratory Care. The program prepares graduates to work in hospitals and other health care facilities monitoring, evaluating and treating patients’ cardiopulmonary issues and illnesses in conjunction with other medical professionals. The degree program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care.

“Keep working towards that goal and don’t give up,” Herrin said. “You can get there. You will make friends and build a great support group.”

For more information about SWIC’s Respiratory Care program, call 618-235-2700, ext. 5907, or visit the Respiratory Care page on