Wesley Willoughby

Learning differences haven't stopped Wesley from succeeding as a student and teacher

Wesley Willoughby first came to College of the Mainland as a 17-year-old high school student taking evening college classes for fun.

Now a COM instructor, he conducts CPR and first aid training at COM and at local plants.

“I like to prepare my students for a very exciting field,” he said.

He first became interested in the Emergency Medical Technician Program after COM instructor Dana Clark spoke to his Santa Fe High School class on a career day. Instructors helped him obtain special permission to begin taking EMT classes as a 17-year-old.

“I wanted to get it done as soon as possible,” he said.

During his senior year in high school he earned his EMT-basic license. After high school graduation, he earned the American Heart Association CPR instructor license and has been teaching CPR ever since.

Diagnosed with both dyslexia and ADHD, Willoughby sometimes struggled with written portions of exams, but he did not want testing modifications made for him, though he qualifies.

“People told me I couldn’t do it, and I did,” he said.

His instructors have supported him outside of the classroom as well. EMS instructor Julianne Duncan informed him of an additional job opportunity and helped him prepare for the interview by reviewing his resume, setting up mock interviews with other instructors and taking him shopping to choose a professional outfit.

“Julianne is amazing. Not too many instructors would go out of their way and make sure you got the job,” Willoughby said.

Duncan recognized his motivation to succeed.

“He’s a hard worker,” said Duncan. “It’s great when we have a student come in with so much potential and who puts in 100 percent. It makes it easy for us to put in our 100 percent. He has a helper personality. It makes him perfect for EMS.”

Emergency medical services is his passion.

“Drug dealers, convicts, I treat everybody like family,” he said.

Sometimes that means going the extra mile. He remembers helping an older woman as she was being loaded into an ambulance in the rain who was upset that she’d just had her hair done. Willoughby grabbed a towel to keep her hair from getting wet.

Willoughby’s ultimate goal is to become a registered nurse and a paramedic and to work on life flights. He feels his EMT training will help him as he continues in the medical field.

“It opens a lot of doors,” he said. “It prepares you for anything.”