Cherise Meadows has always enjoyed drawing houses.
“Even as a child, I would design floor plans and facades for every kind of building imaginable,” she said. “When I was in third grade, my parents bought an old farmhouse, which our family remodeled. My parents really encouraged me to help out in any way possible, and I learned a lot in the process. When I was in high school, my parents bought some land and decided to build a home. Once again, we did much of the work ourselves and I realized how exciting the building process can be. These experiences really got me excited about building and inspired me to pursue architecture.”
Meadows initially wanted to attend Judson University, but due to financial reasons she needed another option. After discovering her local community college did not offer architecture courses, she found out College of DuPage not only offered an Architecture program but that her credits also would transfer.
As a first-time student, Meadows was funding her college education and received the Foundation Textbook Scholarship.
“Receiving the scholarship was a huge blessing to me because it helped ease my financial burden,” she said. “Trying to work and be a full-time student can be two very hard and stressful schedules to manage. This scholarship helped relieve some of that tension, allowing me more time to focus on my studies.”
Meadows earned her Associate in Applied Science degree in Pre-Architecture Technology and completed the Illinois Real Estate Brokers licensing courses. She transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to pursue a bachelor’s degree, taking all online courses for the first year. In fact, for one online class, she needed to participate in a community service project and partnered with her local Habitat for Humanity. This allowed her to put the knowledge she learned at COD to good use.
In 2017, she participated in a two-month study abroad trip in Europe with the Architecture department at UW. Meadows mainly stayed in Paris with opportunities to visit Italy, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. The trip also completed the necessary requirements for her bachelor’s degree in Architecture, and she graduated with very high honors and made the Dean’s List.
Meadows currently works with Saavedra Gehlhausen Architects in Rockford and has advanced her knowledge through the design of commercial buildings. She recently began graduate studies at Southern Illinois University through the Online Master of Architecture program, and she is enrolled in the IPAL (integrated path to licensure) program, which will allow her to pursue her education while simultaneously sitting for her architecture boards.
Meadows encourages new COD students to enroll in courses that pertain to the field they want to pursue.
“I am so thankful College of DuPage offered architecture courses because they helped me know that architecture was the career path for me, without having to spend tens of thousands of dollars like I would have if I had taken these courses at a university,” she said. “In addition, taking these specialized classes got me excited about architecture. I can now see a direct link between my college education and my career and life goals.”