Student Stories: Maria Rivera

Maria Rivera

Major: Electronics Technology/Manufacturing Technology

When Maria Rivera's employer required her to have basic knowledge in electronics, she was able to fulfill two goals.

“Working in electronics was an aspiration of mine, and it has been a dream to earn a college degree,” she said. “Higher education is something I am passionate about. Raising a family as a single mother often took priority over my educational goals.”

Rivera selected College of DuPage because it was highly recommended by her employer and it was close to home. 

“After I attended my first semester, I became interested in learning more about electronics,” she said. “I am completely fascinated with creating circuits and the way electricity works in general.” 

Starting college wasn’t always easy, but Rivera credits Belinda Tijerina, Career and Technical Education Retention Specialist, for providing guidance. 

“I felt overwhelmed and like perhaps attending college would create a financial burden on me. Belinda helped me apply for different scholarships and grants, which made higher education affordable for me,” she said. 

One award was the DuPage Area Moms Scholarships offered through the College of DuPage Foundation, for which Rivera is grateful. She also is thankful for the experience she gained through an internship opportunity with JH Metrology.

“One of my goals was to begin a new career in the electronics field, and COD helped me meet all my goals by opening up opportunities with my current employer to work in the electronics department,” she said. “The Electronics Technology program was challenging and interesting, and COD has incredible, caring staff that assists students every step of the way.” 

The program gave her confidence regarding workplace responsibilities, including calibrating electronic equipment such as temperature controllers and other devices. She has earned the trust and confidence of the management team, which sets her up for future success. 

Having earned her Associate in Applied Science in Electronics Technology, Rivera received an increase in salary at her job, which she feels is a reflection on the importance of education. She is currently finishing a second associate degree in Manufacturing Technology, focusing on drafting and design.

Rivera is excited that her daughter has started at COD in hopes of studying nursing. She is happy that her daughter will share in the COD experience.

“My ultimate educational goal is to be able to call myself a college graduate. Earning my degree gave me an immense sense of accomplishment. It makes me feel like anything is possible if you truly want it and work hard toward it.”