Student Spotlight: Brian Peterson

Brian Peterson

Brian Peterson
Major: Associate in General Studies
Hometown: Downers Grove

After more than a decade in the Army reserves, Brian Peterson was searching for a new career.

"When I returned from my third tour, I made a bet with myself that I would drive down to College of DuPage and sign up for classes," he explained. "I wanted to find out what I could do with my civilian career. Thankfully, my bet paid off and I did well during my first semester."

It was the first positive step forward he took toward a career, although he has no regrets about his military service and is quite proud of it, having reached the rank of Sergeant First Class. Peterson signed up for delayed entry into the Army Reserves, and after high school during his training, 9/11 occurred.

"I was deployed to Kuwait once and to Iraq twice," he said. "That became my career without me actively seeking one."

In between his tours of duty, Peterson held several jobs, from a mechanic to surveying and drafting for a Naperville firm. After a while, he felt there was no other direction to pursue.

"I've had a lot of mentors within the military and at my outside jobs, and they saw potential in me. However, the reason I was not moving into better positions was because I had no college degree," he said. "I finally decided to turn to College of DuPage."

After starting at COD in 2010, Peterson pursued his Associate in General Studies degree. He is transferring to Northern Illinois University in 2013 to earn his bachelor's in Technology and Industrial Management, and he hopes to work as a facility manager or project manager for a manufacturing firm.

In addition to his studies, Peterson applied for several Foundation Scholarships thanks to Professor Bob Hazard's English 1102 class. Hazard encouraged Peterson to apply, and his efforts were well worth it when he received the Naperville Rotary Scholarship and Veterans Textbook Scholarship. He also was president of the Student Veterans Association.

Peterson said College of DuPage is more than just a collection of buildings.

"Even with the stress of leaving my family and going overseas with a group of people who became my family and then being in a stressful environment, my military service allowed me to develop and form. It gave me quite a bit of life and world experience and personal tempering," he said. "But I came into COD from overseas not happy with my world or my situation. I was a 28-year-old vet sitting next to 18-year-olds and high school grads.

"Being at College of DuPage has been the greatest. It's more than bricks and sidewalks. The faculty, staff and students have made this a quality experience, and I encourage everyone to take advantage of what's here."