Major: Computer and Information Science
Veronica Breguta considers her accomplishments at College of DuPage a miracle.
Growing up on a farm in a small village in Moldova, she spent long hours taking care of the animals and helping in the fields. She skipped school days to work with her family and provide food. When Breguta was 17, her parents divorced, and three years later her father died. Her family faced difficult times together and she took care of her mother, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
“For a while, I used to look at my past and think that I’ve had it so hard,” she said. “I used to feel bad for myself until I realized that all the experiences I had growing up, good and bad, should be used as learning opportunities and not something that would drag me down.”
Her interest in computer programming began when she took a class to learn Pascal.
“Every Thursday my class was divided in two groups, and each group got half of the day to practice on computers,” she said. “It was so interesting to me that I stayed not only the first half of the day with my group but, if allowed, the second half of the day as well. I wanted to see how it worked, how I could solve those problems.”
Breguta went through several schools in Moldova, learning English along the way. A friend had moved to the U.S. and Breguta had an opportunity to visit. She decided to stay but was hesitant when other friends suggested she start college.
“My English was not so strong, the educational system seemed confusing at the time, with credit hours, the freedom to choose classes, times of the day when to take classes, freedom to choose instructors and so on,” she said. “I wasn’t used to having the freedom to make so many choices and that was somewhat scary. But I am very happy that I listened to my friends. It was a privilege to attend College of DuPage, and several years later I now understand that COD helped me lay a foundation for my future.”
Breguta, who worked full time while attending school, received the Paul W. and Katherine T. Hedburn Scholarship through the COD Foundation, a $2,000 award that helped with financing her education.
“College, life and family expenses can get overwhelming at times, so having this scholarship made a big difference and was a huge help,” she said.
Although attending college was challenging and stressful, Breguta said she wouldn’t want it any other way.
“My whole experience as a student at COD taught me so many things,” she said. “It taught me to work hard, to be organized, motivated and ambitious. It helped me realize that if I put in the work, I will succeed. It was not always easy, it was exhausting. Schedule with work and classes was so overwhelming at times that I had to do homework and take tests at 2 a.m. just to meet the deadline. But that helped me grow, too. It helped me to learn how to take life one day at a time and what it means to be an adult. You have to make it work.”
Her dedication paid off when she graduated with the Application and Technical Support Specialist Associate in Applied Science degree while maintaining a 3.96 GPA. She earned high honors and was named one of the College’s Outstanding Graduate finalists.
Breguta, who accepted a job offer at a tech company after graduating, pursued her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at Lewis University through COD’s 3+1 program and graduated at the end of 2021. She is considering a master’s degree but tells herself to take one step at a time.
“As for career goals, I know I want to work in the computer field, but I am open to explore,” she said. “At this moment, I know I like software development so a career path that will take me there is a great path. I also know that I want to grow in a company.”
As for her family, Breguta brought her mother and younger sister, Valeria, to the U.S., and bought a home for them. Valeria is currently a student at COD.
“She is 10 years younger, and she means the world to me. In many things I look up to her,” she said. “There are three of us siblings, and we do see her as the smartest from all of us. If I got to be chosen as an Outstanding Graduate finalist, I wouldn’t be surprised that if she were to be given the chance, she would be the outstanding graduate.”
Considering her background, Breguta doesn’t take things for granted. But she is grateful that she took chances that led her to College of DuPage.
“Don’t just go to college because someone is making you to, or you feel you don’t have a choice,” she said. “Going to college is not a burden, it is a privilege. Go to college because you want to, because you understand it is necessary and it will help you down the road. And then, once you start going to college, do good, put as much effort as you can in it. Surround yourself with people who give you sound advice, who want you to thrive, to succeed. Not everyone in this world has a chance at education, so don’t ruin yours.
“And if you have the opportunity, go to College of DuPage. I can tell you firsthand that it will help you build a strong foundation for you career.”