Student Spotlight: Maria Michelis
Maria Michelis thinks of herself as a computer technician in training for the most important system in the world: the brain.
“I’m fascinated by what the human brain can do, how it grows and how personalities become what they are. If one has good mental health, then they have a healthy body, a healthy mind and a healthy life,” she said. “That is why I am interested in psychology. Not only can I help myself reach that state of ‘nirvana’ but I can also help others reach it.”
Her journey is starting at College of DuPage, where she was named a Board of Trustees Scholar, a prestigious honor that includes a $2,500 annual scholarship.
“I was extremely honored to receive this award. It proves that hard work truly does pay off, as I was able to lower the cost even further for my first two years of college. I was also able to define myself as an honors scholar and leader,” she said.
“If I had gone to four-year university first, my professors would not have the time to help me as they do here, nor would I have become an officer of Psi Beta my first year. I’d be lost in the sea of competitive students. I have to acknowledge and thank Dr. Ken Gray, a psychology professor at COD, because he is helping me tremendously in reaching my goals of getting into a graduate program. Because of him, I might even stick out more than those who go to a university first. Remember, the more you stand apart, the more the colleges want you and the more scholarships you can apply to.”
After earning her Associate in Science degree at COD, Michelis would like to eventually earn her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Missouri and become a counselor, perhaps opening her own practice.
She believes her start at College of DuPage is giving her an advantage, even if at first it felt like her friends were going off to four-year schools to have the “times of their lives.” In fact, Michelis admits that she came to COD with a bad attitude.
“I thought this was going to be horrible, that I wouldn’t have a social life, and I was somewhat embarrassed to admit that I was going to a community college. There seems to be this stereotype that you’re stupid, or not good enough, to go to university and that’s why you’re going to community college,” she said.
“In reality? You’re the smartest person in the world for going to a community college. Not only do you pay practically nothing to get your degree, you are able to create social groups, focus on yourself more than you ever would have going to a university, and get tremendous help. I can’t signify this enough: COD has great professors who are willing to sacrifice their time to help you succeed. That’s rare.
“I would advise other students to look at everything with optimism. This is the start of your life. It’s not high school, you will not be pushed in any direction. This is when you count on yourself and yourself only. If you think you can’t do it, you’re wrong. Make your life the way you want it.”
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