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updated: 5/16/2013 11:27 AM

Alexis Reisch of Bolingbrook and Meghan Thome of Naperville are the 2013 Outstanding Graduates at College of DuPage.

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  • Pictured: Meghan Thome (left), Alexis Reisch

    Pictured: Meghan Thome (left), Alexis Reisch

COD News Bureau

Alexis Reisch and Meghan Thome Are COD's Outstanding Graduates for 2013

A graduate of Lyons Township High School, Reisch earned an Associate in Science degree and is transferring to the University of Illinois-Chicago. Thome is a former educator who returned to school and earned an Associate in Applied Science degree in Graphic Design.

When Reisch was looking at colleges, she hoped to attend a four-year institution on a tennis scholarship. But after exploring her options, she could not find the right school for her.

"College of DuPage was the best choice for me," she said. "It offered so many opportunities, one of which was leadership development."

In addition to playing tennis for one year, Reisch took part in the Living Leadership program and New Student Orientation. She liked that freshmen and sophomores could become officers of clubs and organizations, which would not happen at a four-year school, and she became active in Haven, a student club that deals with human rights in regards to different cultures and religions.

Reisch also participated in a research project with Psychology Professor Ken Gray involving how different mindsets affect outcomes. Gray, Associate Professor of Sociology Mary Jean Cravens and others helped broaden her analytical skills.

Reisch plans to study neuroscience as well as social science, and she would like to find a job working with people who have survived abuse and trauma. Reisch believes she has the right perspective to help others.

"I've always done what everyone else wanted me to do," she said. "College of DuPage helped me find my own voice. The faculty and staff really opened my eyes, and I learned how to explore what I wanted to do."

Thome already earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of Illinois. She expected to spend her career in the classroom and taught fourth grade for three years. But she realized she could no longer ignore her passion.

"I've always had this creative side of me. It was finally time to do something about it," she said.

Thome immersed herself in the Graphic Design program, and the results have more than justified her decision. During the recent Portfolio Night, when Graphic Design students display what they have created in class, she received both the Best Portfolio and Outstanding Graphic Design Student awards.

In addition, Thome also worked in the Graphic Design department for Professor/Coordinator John Callegari. He encouraged her to become the Adobe Partners by Design student representative for the College, and she attended industry conferences in both San Francisco and Los Angeles where she networked with design professionals.

"John has been a mentor to me for two years and has pushed me so much," she said. "He could see what needed to improve in my work and I can't thank him enough for the opportunities he's given to me."

Thome already obtained a job as a graphic designer at Cubicle Ninjas in Glen Ellyn and would like to create children's books. She is considering a master's degree and possibly returning to the classroom, this time helping college students develop their creative passions.

"I believe the path I took was for a reason," she said. "College of DuPage is on par if not better than most four-year schools. Coming here was the best decision I ever made."