Staff Stories: Kate Szetela

Kate Szetela

When Kate Szetela first entered college, she intended to pursue a career as a teacher. But after spending time observing students at a local high school, she realized that she first wanted to gain experience outside the classroom.

So Szetela, who earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Dominican University, began her career in sales at Cision PR Newswire, where she spent several years.

"When my desire to be in the classroom returned, I transitioned into teaching high school English in the northwest suburbs," she said. "Then, after starting a family, I had the opportunity to work part time and became an adjunct faculty member at Triton College, where I taught Adult Education ESL courses and just loved it."

She also saw an opportunity to teach additional classes at College of DuPage.

"During the interview, I learned that a program manager position was open in Adult Education and was delighted to be invited to apply," she said. "Eventually I was offered the position, which I enjoyed for five years before moving into my current role."

Now the Adjunct Faculty Support Manager through COD's Adjunct Faculty Training Institute, Szetela provides comprehensive professional development focused on best-practice teaching strategies in order to increase student success while reducing student withdrawal rates.

She enjoys working with colleagues from all areas of the College and seeing the commitment faculty and staff have to student success.

"I especially appreciate the opportunity to be of service to our adjunct faculty as well as to learn from them," she said. "We have so many experts in our midst. Whether it be discovering a teaching technique in a classroom observation that I can share with others or acquiring a tidbit of knowledge from the many disciplines we offer, it is always interesting and new."

She said the instructional coaching, training and moral support she provides to adjunct faculty result in higher levels of student engagement and achievement. Her work also led her to facilitate mindfulness meditation workshops for various COD audiences.
"These include a young police recruit appreciating techniques for managing her stress, a GED student who was better able to focus and pass his test, and a young engineering student who rode the waves of intense coursework to make his way to the University of Illinois," she said. "It's been gratifying to witness their growth and persistence.

"I'm also inspired by the resilience of our employees and students at COD. Whether it be an 88-year-old adjunct faculty member who is giving whatever it takes in learning how to give virtual lectures or a Community College Initiative student who traveled for days to return to her village in Bangladesh during a hurricane and pandemic, I am awed by the dignity and strength of our COD community."