Student Spotlight: John Batke
John Batke’s first grade teacher, Mrs. Allmart, prompted his interest in aviation.
“I remember her telling stories about her sons in the Air Force and showing us their aircraft,” he said. “I recall this one book she kept which I became almost addicted to. The book had pictures and details about a multitude of military planes and I tried to find the ones Mrs. Allmart mentioned in her accounts. I even remember dressing up like a pilot on a career day we had in the class. Her teaching helped me discover my passion for aircraft. In fact, if you were to go through a few of my notebooks from middle school, you would see pages of airplane doodles. Hopefully in four years those doodles will be a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering.”
Batke selected College of DuPage because of his engineering interest and the Pathways to Engineering program, which provides guaranteed admission for qualified students to the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also was named a Presidential Scholar, which comes with a full-tuition scholarship and enrollment in COD's Honors program and the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society.
“Being a Presidential Scholar is an honor,” he said. “Besides the full tuition scholarship, the service learning in my community has been fun! I am making some great connections with other scholars.
“Every class that I have taken has been beneficial and interesting. The classes are helping to prepare me for an eventual transfer to a four year college, my ultimate goal, and the professors are supportive. If help is needed to understand a concept, the Learning Commons has tutors available to go over things step-by-step to clarify.”
Batke said that COD’s Engineering Club rivals any four-year school, pointing out that the club’s robotics team in past years has done very well at the UIUC Jerry Sanders Robotics Competition. He added that COD’s faculty of knowledgeable and supportive instructors has prepared him not only to transfer to a university, but also to succeed in his career later down the line.
“Professors Scott Banjavcic and Dave Smith have offered great insight into how this industry functions and how to get a meaningful job once we receive our degrees,” Batke said.
During the summer of 2014, he served an internship at Fermilab through the national laboratory’s Community College Intern program. He spent his days in Fermilab’s silicon detector research facility as part of a team acquiring and analyzing data that will help optimize silicon photomultiplier single-photon counting detectors for the focal surface of a high-tech space telescope that will be attached to the International Space Station.
Batke hopes one day to work for a privatized space company like Space Exploration Technologies, Orbital Science or United Launch Alliance. He said he is pleased with the education and experience he has received at COD.
“COD is an exceptional starting point for higher education and has so much to offer students, as long as you can transcend your own conventions,” he said. “College of DuPage is, honestly, a first-class education. With the way four-year universities have been changing over the past decade, choosing COD is a smart decision. The tuition is reasonable and there are many options for personal growth. Even though COD has a large student body, it has a small community feel to it. There are many people willing to help students succeed, so be proactive.”
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2016 College of DuPage