Rachel Dau, Roxanne Peterson 2014 Outstanding Grads

Outstanding Graduates

Roxanne Peterson (left),
Rachel Dau

By Brian Kleemann

Rachel Dau of Glen Ellyn and Roxanne Peterson of Wheaton are the 2014 Outstanding Graduates at College of DuPage.

Dau has earned two Associate in Applied Science Degrees: in Culinary Arts and in Baking and Pastry Arts. Peterson has graduated with her Associate in Applied Science Degree in Dental Hygiene.

Dau is the first College of DuPage student to receive the prestigious Les Dames de Escoffier scholarship that awards female culinary students based on need, accomplishment and potential. She was one of only seven women in the Chicago area to receive this award. In addition, she has served as the vice president for the College’s Culinary and Hospitality Club and worked as a student assistant in the Baking and Pastry Department, where she created and managed a department-wide ordering system for all of the classes.

“I fell in love with the school,” she said. “It has so much to offer and so much to challenge you.”

Outside of school, Dau spent two seasons working as part of the kitchen team during the Chicago Bears home games as well as other on-site events. She also runs her own cake and pastry business.

She has begun her bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management through COD’s 3+1 program with Roosevelt University. Her goals are to open her own bakery or restaurant and to teach baking and pastry arts.

Dau credits College of DuPage for providing a sound foundation for her culinary education. She especially cites the high caliber of her instructors, especially Nancy Carey and Mary Beth Leone, who were both mentors and “second mothers” to her.

“I cannot thank them enough for everything they have done for me,” she said. “I am so honored to represent this school, and I will always be an advocate for College of DuPage and the impact it has on people’s lives.”

Peterson originally was set to pursue her passion for dance. Upon graduating from high school, she was preparing to join the Boston Ballet on a full scholarship. But two weeks before the program started, she broke her ankle in five places and injured her back.

She eventually moved to DuPage County with her sister, started two jobs, and began taking general education courses at College of DuPage. In searching for a career in which she could help people, Peterson discovered dental hygiene.

“I did some job shadowing with a dental hygienist and discovered that I really enjoyed it,” she said.

Since entering COD’s program, Peterson has developed a program for the nurses working at Edwards Hines, Jr., VA Hospital on proper oral hygiene care. She also helped to lead a presentation for patients at the Ray Graham Center, where they discussed proper brushing, flossing and nutrition.

She has volunteered at a variety of schools, including those in the Bensenville Elementary School District, to help educate children about brushing, flossing and proper diet, and she has read educational oral health books to children during story time at Barnes and Noble in an effort to reinforce proper oral care.

Peterson is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Management through COD’s 3+1 program with Concordia University. Her goal is to work in a hospital setting as a registered dental hygienist.

“At Hines, nurses are expected to take care of oral care, but they aren’t trained in that area,” she said. “I don’t feel the government has funded such care properly and the insurance companies are not on the same page. The first step toward proper care is education.

“I cannot thank College of DuPage enough, and I especially want to thank Professors Barbara Czahor, Patricia Belmonte, and Lori Drummer. Their constant support allowed me to pursue an exciting new career.”