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Eva Rivera

Gateway Student Proves You Are Never Too Old to Go Back to School

Eva Rivera spent 36 years of her life working as a physical therapist assistant in New Jersey. As a single mother, she worked 50 hours a week to ensure her three children could live a comfortable life. It wasn’t until her children were grown and thriving on their own that she decided to retire and make a move across country to Arizona. Not ready to give up passion, she sought out a part-time role doing what she loved. Unfortunately, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) declined to endorse her license in Arizona. 

Rivera was devastated. “Physical therapy assisting is the only profession that I love,” she shared.  

After a bit of self-reflection, Rivera knew what she needed to do. She enrolled in the Practical Nursing program at GateWay, which allowed her the opportunity to receive her certificate in a short period of time. She then worked as a licensed practical nurse, while taking the prerequisites to enter into the Physical Therapist Assistant program. 

“Working part-time as a practical nurse was a great experience, but I was still longing for my beloved profession,” Rivera said.

Rivera appreciated the college’s affordability, location and excellent instructors when deciding on a school to attend. She credits her advisor and many of the resources offered for helping make her return to school seamless and fun. 

“Caroline Delgado always greeted me with a smile, answered all my questions, provided me with knowledgeable advice and celebrated all of my achievements. And the Learning Center’s one-on-one tutoring staff helped me to increase my grades!”

Rivera is finishing her Physical Therapy Assisting (PTA) associate degree at the age of 67, proving age is just a number.

When asked what advice she would give current students, she said, “I became a nurse at 64 and I proved everybody wrong.” 

Rivera is looking forward to completing her PTA program and specializing in wound care. She hopes to work abroad in an effort to gain more knowledge and cultural experiences. 

To learn more about the Physical Therapist Assisting program visit, gatewaycc.edu/physical-therapist-assisting