Student Stories: Jacqueline King-Tran

Jacqueline King-Tran portrait

Major: Graphic Design

Jacqueline King-Tran hoped to study art after high school, but her mother discouraged it.

“ ‘You’re not good enough, get a real job and just start working’ was my mother’s response, and I can’t blame her,” King-Tran said. “She was a single mother trying to raise four children on her own with a 10th grade education. She came from a family of coal miners and farmers. Dreams like that were impossible in her world.”

Instead, for the next 18 years, King-Tran worked as an administrative assistant. But the passion for art never left her. During this time, she created and sold jewelry, enjoyed crocheting and was involved with the DuPage Art League.  

In 2015, disabled and raising her three children with special needs, King-Tran decided to start living out her dream and enrolled at College of DuPage.

Adult Student Admission

“I was a single mom who wanted to make more money to raise my children, and with a degree, I had a better chance to provide for them,” she said. “I also wanted to overcome the mental disability that my mom put on me. I wanted to believe in myself.”

When meeting with an advisor, she initially thought about studying business. However, wanting to be an artist, King-Tran decided upon graphic design after discovering the program had several 2+2 transfer agreements with well-respected four-year schools.

At COD, she found many people who were invested in her success.

“It was hard work and midnight hours, but it was worth it,” she said. “The faculty helped me define and refine the areas that I excelled at. I became an honor student with a 3.9 GPA as well as a member of Phi Theta Kappa and AIGA, the graphic design student organization. I also won the Portfolio Identity Award and was a multiple Portfolio Award nominee.”

COD prepared me for my future by providing professors with working knowledge of the industry and real-life experience through projects with actual clients.

Jacqueline King-Tran

For an assignment in her Digital Illustration class, King-Tran had to write and illustrate a step-by-step process for an imaginary instructional guide. The result was a book called “How to Put the Sun in Your Room.”

“I chose to write about staying warm during cold Chicago winters,” she said. “I am from California, and the one thing I miss the most is sitting in the warm sunlight. If I could just put the sun in my room during the winter, I would be so much happier. I knew I wasn’t the only one who would love to have that option. Someday I would like to write and illustrate children’s books, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to create my first one.”

In earning her Associate in Applied Science degree, King-Tran achieved high honors and was named an outstanding graduate finalist. She is taking advantage of a 2+2 agreement with Columbia College Chicago to pursue a BFA in graphic design and received the Chicagoland Transfer Award scholarship, a $12,000 annual award granted to Chicago-area community college students. While at Columbia, she made the Dean’s List with a 3.98 GPA and has been featured on the college’s banner web site twice—for her scholarship and for National Transfer Student Week.

After completing her bachelor’s degree, she is interested in either creating social justice media or medical illustration. Regardless of her path, King-Tran credits COD for helping her create a strong foundation.

“COD prepared me for my future by providing professors with working knowledge of the industry and real-life experience through projects with actual clients, in addition to helping me with portfolio preparation, resume building and document creation such as contracts, briefs and forms to use as an independent contractor,” she said.

The College also has become a family affair. King-Tran’s oldest child is currently in the Engineering Pathways program, her next child will start in fall 2023 and her youngest also plans on entering the Engineering Pathways program.

“I have told my children that COD is a great school to attend for the following reasons: The tuition is much lower than a four-year college; there are hundreds of opportunities for scholarships; the counselors are always ready to help you with whatever path you want to follow, whether it is a degree, certificate, workforce development or continuing education; there are so many subjects and opportunities to take advantage of, with multiple options for attending and duration; the 2+2 and 3+1 programs help you save money and time when transferring to another college, in addition to taking the guesswork out of what credits will transfer; and the professors are often working professionals who have their pulse on the real-world environment of the degree you are seeking,” she said.

“I hope I have given back by being a role model for younger students, being an example of persistence and showing them how to be life-long learners. Please remember all limitations are self-imposed. I also hope I am an example to my children that you can overcome if you try and that they can achieve their dreams.”

Learn more about the Graphic Design program at College of DuPage


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