Student Stories: Teal Russeau

Teal Russeau

Major: Transfer

As a high school senior, Teal Russeau wasn’t ready to leave the comfortable environment of her high school, let alone her family and hometown.

“Not only did I feel unprepared for the emotional aspect of going away, I also was unsure of my career path,” she said. “While my friends were looking into Big Ten schools and state universities, I was still reconciling the idea of going to college in the first place. I was led to believe that, as an ‘A-level kid’ in the top 5 percent of her class, I was meant to be at a prestigious or Big Ten school. So I struggled with the internal battle of my nostalgic feelings and the societal pressure of ‘fitting in.’”

Scholars Awards at COD

Russeau discussed her struggles with one of her high school teachers and mentor, Erin Axelsen. That discussion helped Russeau realize that selecting College of DuPage was the right choice for her. She then applied for the Presidential Scholarship, which provides tuition for two years to high-achieving students.

“I had worked hard in high school, and knew that my grades would take me anywhere I wanted to go. After making my decision, my high school counselor explained the requirements and rewards of the Presidential Scholarship. Looking back, I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and I would not change anything about my COD journey if I could,” she said.

With the scholarship firmly in hand, Russeau started at COD, unsure of a major. She enrolled in Introduction to Education during her first semester, and it took only one week for Russeau to know she wanted a career where she helped people.

In 2015, Russeau earned her Associate in Arts degree and was named one of the College’s Outstanding Graduate finalists. She also received the North Central College Transfer Scholarship, a full-tuition award presented annually to one COD student.

Transfer Opportunities at COD

While she initially majored in English and secondary education with a minor in Spanish, Russeau graduated magna cum laude with bachelor’s degrees in English and Psychology, with minors in Spanish and Gender/Women’s Studies. She was also a member of Psi Chi, the Psychology National Honors Society, and the Public Relations chair of a mental health awareness club on campus, for which she launched a new blog promoting hope and recovery.

After graduation, Russeau moved to Columbia, S.C., where she worked as an admission counselor at Midlands Technical College. She then completed a dual master’s program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Social Psychology at Ball State University and worked at an intermediate school for fifth and sixth graders as a school-based therapist through RHA Health Services. Now she is a therapist for neurodivergent, queer adults at AshTree Counseling Center.

As for College of DuPage, she is outspoken about how others should perceive it.

“Do not get caught up in the overbearing societal attitudes and beliefs about college. Despite what anyone says or thinks, attending a community college is NOT lame, stupid or fake,” she said. “In fact, not only will you save more money than any of your friends in the long run, the experiences you have at COD are also guaranteed to be more influential, beneficial and valuable because of the different atmosphere offered on campus and in the classroom.

“I genuinely hope that my story and others like it can reverse the nonsensical ‘community college stigma.’ Honestly, I truly believe that my choice to attend COD was the best decision I have made in my life thus far.”

Learn more about the Teacher Preparation program at College of DuPage