COD Students Land Prestigious Summer Internships at IIT and Northwestern University

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By Mike McKissack

College of DuPage students Michael Miklinski (Aurora) and Ryan Tris (Naperville) are gaining real world experience this summer, enhancing their studies in biology and engineering, respectively, with internships at top institutions.

Miklinski, who completed his Associate of Science degree at COD this spring, is interning at the Illinois Institute of Technology researching and testing staphylococcus aureus, the bacteria responsible for staph infections, which has become resistant to common antibiotics. The work is a precursor to his transfer to UIC this fall, where he plans to pursue his bachelor’s in biology.

“This is exactly the kind of research that I would dream about, working with a team to discover how something works for the first time,” he said. “I look forward to working with a professional team so I can get a taste of work before graduating so I know what to expect. Being able to see how the scientific process works in a real environment is extremely helpful in this regard.”

Miklinski said COD gave him the opportunity to test out the playing field and look into potential educational and career paths. 

“I really didn't know exactly what I wanted to do for a career apart from some vague ideas of something in science,” he said. “Instead of spending a lot of money at a four-year university with no goal, I decided to attend COD so I could explore different options and just have some time to plan.”

 Serving as secretary for the Honors Student Advisory Committee and hired as a biology lab assistant at the College, Miklinski said COD has provided vital opportunities both inside and outside the classroom. 

“COD provides the opportunity to explore subjects you might not normally consider,” he said. “At a four-year university you are under a lot of pressure to follow through on a single path, but at COD you have the opportunity to explore a lot more. I definitely feel a lot more focused and prepared to reach my goal than I was when I initially started attending college.”

After attending COD in 2005 and 2006 for paramedicine, Ryan Tris returned in 2016 to pursue engineering. Having just completed his Associate in General Studies degree at COD, he is transferring to the University of Illinois at Chicago this fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. This summer, he is interning at Northwestern University and hopes to have the opportunity to work in labs focused on additive manufacturing or aerospace disciplines.

“Northwestern is a premier research institution and I know I will gain valuable insight into the world of scientific research,” he said. “I think having this opportunity will help distinguish myself from other future job applicants by demonstrating my ability to quickly learn new things and adapt to new experiences quickly.”

Tris is a participant in COD’s STEM Student Success program, a National Science Foundation-funded scholarship program designed to recruit and retain underserved students in the targeted areas of Physics, Chemistry and Engineering who have demonstrated financial need. It was through the S-STEM program that Tris secured the internship.

“The STEM Student Success program does a good job of providing its recipients with access to internships relevant to our college paths and interests,” he said. “The NWU summer research experience looked like a very interesting experience and because I am STEM Student Success scholarship recipient I was given priority access to the internship.”

Tris said he would encourage future and current students to utilize the myriad resources at the College.

“Apply to the array of scholarships available, use the College’s Math Assistance Areas as needed,” he said. “In addition, most teachers will absolutely take the time outside of class to assist you with your studies. I have even had insightful discussions about future career plans from great educators like Dave Smith, who have industry experience. These are features you will not find at large schools.”

College of DuPage is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Serving approximately 26,000 students each term, College of DuPage is the largest public community college in the state of Illinois. The College grants seven associate degrees and offers more than 170 career and technical certificates in over 50 areas of study.

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