Student Stories: Rima Househ

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Major: Arts and Business

Rima Househ comes from a long line of College of DuPage graduates – great uncles, an uncle and aunt, her mother and her older sister.

“It’s a family tradition,” she said. “COD is such an amazing place that has become a part of us. For a number of my family members, Arabic is their first language. They said COD was a place that made them feel like they belonged, where the teachers and students understood them.”

Househ understands the importance of belonging after facing the challenges of moving to a new place. Born and raised in Carol Stream, she was 8 years old when her father’s career took her family to Qatar for one year and then Kuwait for five years. Although difficult at first, she embraced the experience, including the opportunity to learn both Arabic and French.

“It was a life-changing experience,” she said. “It was an opportunity to discover our roots as a family and discover who we are. I was able to travel to many countries, where I saw so much beauty and culture but also hardships. By discovering the archaeology in Greece, witnessing the architecture in Italy and exploring the realms of ancient and modern Turkey, I realized the value of art. I want to take what I have seen and learned and put it into my future career.”

Househ followed tradition and enrolled at College of DuPage after she, her mother and her sisters returned to DuPage County. The move separated the family from her father, who stayed in Kuwait for his job.

“We know it’s for a reason, and it has challenged us as sisters and daughters to work together, support our mom and help our dad when we see he is lonely,” she said.

At COD, she found a welcoming environment, especially at the McAninch Arts Center.

“I knew I was at the right place when I visited the MAC and saw the burst of creativity and the exquisite shows being performed,” Househ said. “To see my name on the cast list after auditioning for my first college production, ‘The Diary of Anne Frank,’ is a moment I will never forget. This was a small part but it was so big in my heart. It was a personal achievement that changed and shaped the rest of my time attending COD.”

Her time at COD also included being part of the Buffalo Theatre Ensemble’s shadow program, through which she was able to work closely with a professional actor. Also providing a positive impact were her professors, especially Peter Kanetis, Instructor of Philosophy; Connie Canaday Howard, Professor of Theater; and Shannon Toler, Professor of Business.

“I took three classes with Peter Kanetis. He helped me find my courage. I learned how to come out of my shell and be accepted and that I am worth something,” she said. “Connie Canaday Howard is one of the best people in my life. She has such knowledge and a willingness to share. She makes every student feel special. And Shannon Toler is phenomenal. I was so lucky to have her as a teacher. She helped me develop and confirm what I want to do. Because of her, I am proud to be transferring to Columbia College to major in arts management, a major I feel I’ve been setting myself up for since I was a kid. She made me realize that whatever path I take, there is a place out there for me.”

Because of her background and language skills, Househ would love to work internationally, possibly in Europe or the Middle East, and apply what she learned at COD. She believes she can help people through arts, especially in places where it is an emerging part of the culture. 

In 2019, Househ was named one of the College’s two outstanding graduates, a distinction that seems to fit into a family that gained so much from COD.

“COD is a family member to us. Every Thanksgiving, COD is brought up at least five times, and all of our conversations are about how memorable a place it is,” she said. “If someone asked me for advice, I would say to go COD because you will never find a place like it anywhere. You will feel like you belong because of the love and inclusion for all students. At COD, you can feel like you can be who you are, and that’s what I love about the school.”

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Click on the above photo for a video about Rima Househ.