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An Investment in Knowledge

Every day across America, college tour guides point out various campus buildings and rattle off impressive statistics for prospective students and their families.

Facilities matter, to be sure. But the real measure of collegiate success is impact on students, the community and the world.

Karen Rutt of Lombard and Omar Escamilla of Hanover Park are two of the students who’ve experienced the impact of College of DuPage first hand.

Rutt, 35, is studying at COD for the third time.

“I attended COD my senior year of high school in 1995 in order to graduate on time,” said Rutt. “I never really cared for school when I was younger. Since I’ve matured, that’s changed. I’ve realized that an education is the door to a future.”

After her high school graduation, Rutt enrolled at COD “because it was close and inexpensive.”

“I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my future. I was taking general education classes, hoping for that ‘aha’ moment.”

It never came. And with no clear goal in mind, she struggled and eventually quit.

Fifteen years later, with a child on the way and meaningful work more imperative than ever, Rutt signed up for a five-hour career assessment class at COD. It pointed her to occupational therapy. She’s now working toward an Associate in Science degree and then will pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Rutt said COD has undergone remarkable change.

“Between the ‘old’ COD and ‘new’ COD, it’s like two different colleges,” said Rutt. “The instructors were always top notch, but now there’s the restaurant, technology building, health and science center, homeland security and immaculately landscaped grounds. These educational buildings represent real-life working situations.”

 That real-world classroom-to-workplace approach also changed the mind of 19-year-old Escamilla.

“I had a very negative conception of community colleges,” said Escamilla. “My first options were private, four-year institutions.”

But a funny thing happened when he visited the COD campus.

“With many of the on-campus facilities and equipment, students are able to have hands-on experiences and apply that to the real world,” said Escamilla.

What’s more, he said, “study rooms, student lounges, and quiet spots are spread around campus to make the environment study-friendly.”

 Currently completing an Associate in Arts degree, Escamilla hopes to earn a bachelor’s in organizational communication, then work toward a doctorate in higher education administration. He’d eventually like to work for a university or community college “where I can connect with students and ensure their success.”

Both Rutt and Escamilla said they’re grateful to taxpayers for making COD affordable and high quality.

“Their contributions have made a positive impact not only for students and their families, but also for the transformation of the community,” said Escamilla.

“With your gift, you have built a stable and well-crafted foundation for thousands upon thousands of students,” said Rutt. “You have given students faith that you believe in us. Your trust has created a better future for each student, while strengthening the community as a whole. Benjamin Franklin said, ‘An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.’ I believe this is true for each individual’s life and society as a whole. And for that, I humbly thank you.”

At top: Students Karen Rutt and Omar Escamilla are grateful to taxpayers for making COD affordable and high quality. (photo by Tony Armour Photography/special to College of DuPage)


Contact Information

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College of DuPage
425 Fawell Boulevard
Glen Ellyn IL 60137

College of DuPage

425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn IL, 60137

(630) 942-2800 (Main)

(630) 942-3000 (Student Services)

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