Major: Respiratory Care
Nelson Sanchez wasn't sure where his college education was going until he ran into a friend.
"I began attending College of DuPage post-high school because it was affordable, but I took two years off after my third year here. I lost sight of why I was in school and needed a break from academics to reevaluate," he said. "During my time off, I ran into an old friend who'd graduated from the Respiratory Care program and suggested I look into it. Most of my family and myself have a history of asthma, so I thought, 'I already have a foot in the door!'"
While taking his elective classes at COD, Sanchez learned a lesson – one that didn't come from books – that he always carries with him.
"The lesson is that everyone, from other students to both good teachers and ones I didn't care for, has something for me to learn," he said. "I've brought this with me to my personal relationships and jobs. It's improved my communication skills, humbled me and advanced my work ethic. I don't think I could make the leaps and bounds in myself without that lesson."
After earning his associate's degree in Respiratory Care, Sanchez plans to take his board exams and then determine what's next. He likes the adrenaline rush he gets from working in the ICU and other trauma units, and down the line he is also interested in teaching.
For students considering COD, Sanchez said never underestimate the faculty at a community college.
"We have some of the most learned and experienced faculty, especially in the health sciences," he said. "If you are looking into the Respiratory Care program, understand that it's not necessarily easy. But if you are willing to listen, ask questions and work for it, the teachers have your back 110 percent.
"Also, just a reminder that learning happens at every age. COD is not just for the incoming freshman, but also for those looking at continuing their education. A good portion of my respiratory class is moms. And so I'm giving a great shout-out and bow of respect to all those moms who are bettering themselves while balancing jobs, kids, home life and the rest of the things I don't have to worry about. Y'all are the real rock stars."