Many students come to University of Phoenix to reinvent themselves. In fact, mid-career changers are no longer the exception, but the rule.

That’s why we’re so excited to team up with CBS and its upcoming sitcom Carol’s Second Act, premiering Sept. 26. Patricia Heaton returns to CBS in an original comedy about a woman who pursues her dream career after raising her children, getting divorced and retiring from teaching.

Sound familiar? Career reinventions are not unlike the path taken by many of our 1 million alumni.

Heaton recently spoke about how her character’s story resonates with her own. “This came after The Middle was all done,” says Heaton, who previously also starred in the CBS hit show Everyone Loves Raymond. “I think what was perfect about it was that my kids are pretty much out of the house, and my second long-running show was done. I was feeling a bit at sea not knowing what I was doing.”

She started asking the big question her character asks: Who am I without these things? “I’m no longer a full-time mom, and I didn’t have a job as an actress. I very much felt the things that a person like Carol would feel,” Heaton says.

Play video

Carol's Second Act On CBS | First Look

Knowing that the comical and poignant parts of her journey may resonate with many of our University of Phoenix alumni, Executive Producers Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern also sat down with Phoenix Flight to offer a behind-the-scenes look at the show.

What inspired Carol’s Second Act?

The show is inspired by second chances. We believe it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

What inspired Carol as the show’s main character?

Everybody has that fantasy of the road not taken, the path not followed. Then we thought what character we would most like to tell this story through. We loved the idea of an older woman, somebody of an age at a time in her life when she might traditionally be expected to retreat or become less visible. We thought, let’s put her center stage and put her in an environment where her age is actually her strength.

We do not offer medical degrees at University of Phoenix, but our nursing and healthcare alumni may relate to the setting. Why did you choose a hospital?

The idea of creating an intergenerational workplace comedy set in a hospital allowed us the opportunity to tell very human stories with humor and heart.

What was the seminal moment when Carol decided to change careers?

After divorcing her husband, Carol took an honest look at her life to determine what she truly wanted next for herself. It was during this time that she decided to pursue a second act in medicine. 

What keeps Carol going when she feels like quitting?

Carol will face insecurities about her age and abilities while struggling with feelings of not belonging. Even with these obstacles, her passion for helping people will always remind her to never give up.

Carol has many traits embodied by our alumni — she’s a career-changer and she pursued her educational dreams later in life than what’s traditional. What do you think our alumni will like most about her?

Carol is a woman who is resilient and committed to following her dreams no matter what. If that’s not relatable to the alumni at University of Phoenix, then we don’t know what is! She’s been out in the world, raising kids, teaching, and dealing with people and responsibilities before pursuing a career in medicine. The lived experiences that Carol and your alumni share will only help them when it comes to their own second act. 

UOPX: Because Carol is older, how has she adapted to being the “senior newbie”? How does she handle workplace challenges?

CBS: Carol is a former teacher and a student of life. She’s always adapting to being the “senior newbie.” She uses the knowledge gained as a former teacher and divorcee to help her patients — she sees the whole person and not just the medical problem in workplace challenges.

In the spirit of Carol’s Second Act, we’re interested to know…what’s your story? Did you pull off a second act? Did you reinvent yourself or change careers? Post on Instagram with the hashtag #IAmAPhoenix for a chance to be featured in future spotlights.

By Laurie Davies, Senior Writer, University of Phoenix