Student Spotlight: Kerensa Schwarz
Major: Teacher Preparation
Kerensa Schwarz always wanted to be a teacher but thought she was too old to attend college. Thankfully, her friends thought otherwise.
“I was asked whether I wanted to turn 49 being a teacher or turn 49 wishing I was a teacher. This made me take my first step toward a degree,” she said. “Another friend also told me that the first step was always the hardest step, which is very true.”
Schwarz turned to College of DuPage for a variety of reasons. She wanted the flexibility to begin with only two courses to make sure she could still work full time, attend her children’s sporting activities and go to class.
“I thought I was too old to start, but there were so many other adults taking the same classes that it made me very comfortable,” she said. “Many of these adults also had the same goals as myself. By offering so many evening classes, COD was the only reason I was able to take the classes I could as I could pick certain days and certain times.”
She’s also thankful to the College of DuPage Foundation. Even though COD is affordable, she was grateful to receive three scholarships: the Elaine Ward Textbook Scholarship, the COD Foundation Textbook Scholarship and the Returning Adult Scholarship, totaling $2,650.
“If it was not for these scholarships, I would not have been able to attend college due to my family’s finances. I am so very grateful to be a recipient,” she said.
Having achieved a 4.0 GPA at College of DuPage, Schwarz has now transferred to Elmhurst College, where she received the highest scholarship award amount and funding for being a member of Phi Theta Kappa. Her ultimate goal is to become an elementary/special education teacher.
“I have always wished to be a teacher, but working as a special education paraprofessional in a local school has pushed me to get my teaching degree,” she said. “I would really like to work in kindergarten, first, or second grade as there are many students who have special needs and have not been diagnosed. I feel I could really help these students.
“If I had to offer any advice to people thinking about entering any program at College of DuPage, I would advise them to do it sooner rather than later. The more I thought about taking the first step, the harder it became. During my time at COD, I gained a tremendous amount of confidence as well as knowledge that will enable me to be successful at Elmhurst College. Just take the first step. I wish I had taken mine many years ago.”
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