COD students define their own success

By Ann Rondeau
College of DuPage
Posted5/10/2018 1:40 PM
  • Artist Zlatka Burtis began as a photography student at College of DuPage before an assignment turned her focus toward art and fashion. Her dresses styled from newspaper are on display in the school's Wings Gallery.

    Artist Zlatka Burtis began as a photography student at College of DuPage before an assignment turned her focus toward art and fashion. Her dresses styled from newspaper are on display in the school's Wings Gallery. Courtesy of College of DuPage/Photo by James C. Svehla

College of DuPage celebrates success in a variety of ways. It can be a reflection of exceptional grades, which COD recognizes with our annual Celebration of Academic Excellence.

During the event last month, we honored our Presidential Scholars, Board of Trustees Scholars and Honors Scholars, as well as the recipients of honors transfer scholarships to partner schools Elmhurst and North Central colleges.

The college also showcases the success of students through events open to the college community. These include See Writing Differently, where students from our composition courses present the results of research projects; Exposed, which celebrates the work of our photography students; Animation Night, which gives our animation students a chance to screen their projects for an audience; the Game Development Student Showcase for our computer students; the annual fashion show; and a student recital with performances of compositions written, arranged and produced by students earning their Associate in Fine Arts--Music degree.

Achievement also is the result of a personal goal. The singular act of passing a class sometimes can provide the needed self-confidence and momentum for a student to continue moving forward. I congratulate these students on having the courage to pursue their dreams and for taking the necessary steps toward doing so.

Helping achieve dreams, whatever they may be, is what College of DuPage does. I want to mention one student whose creativity has been unleashed in a stunning way.

I first met Zlatka Burtis when her work was selected for the Student, Faculty and Staff Art Reception that I host twice a year in my office. I was immediately taken by the dazzling dresses that she created by hand out of newspapers.

Zlatka, originally from the Czech Republic, came to College of DuPage after her second child was born and she began taking photography courses. The idea for the dresses came while taking a portrait photography class with an assignment to shoot fashion.

Because of her own interest in fashion, Zlatka decided to make dresses and initially experimented with wrapping paper. In the end, she used newspaper, and when she began to photograph her creations, they really popped.

Zlatka, whose work is currently on display in the college's Wings Gallery, is an example of a student who has excelled at COD outside the traditional academic model.

I truly enjoy the breadth and depth of the diverse array of our students' experiences. We have such an extraordinary array of talent, which can exemplify itself in those who choose to complete an associate degree to individuals who come to the college for other reasons. To see these students cultivate their passions is an achievement worth celebrating.

In fact, the college's two outstanding graduates for 2018, Anna Gorman and Molly Langlotz, also represent the different reasons students turn to College of DuPage.

Anna, who came to us from high school, excelled as an honors student and as president of both the Model United Nations and Anthropology clubs. Her involvement in the Model UN, in particular, provided her with leadership experience and allowed her to develop her passion for political science.

Molly dropped out of high school but had a strong desire to complete her studies and initially signed up for the High School Equivalency program at COD. She earned her GED, received a scholarship to start pursuing her higher education, and is now graduating with a 4.0 grade-point average.

One of the great pleasures of being a community college president is meeting students spanning the age spectrum and coming from varying backgrounds. Their goals run the gamut from graduation and transfer to self-fulfillment, and I could share so many more stories that illustrate their accomplishments.

As I attend the various year-end events and activities, as well as commencement, I marvel at everything our students have achieved and am proud of all that we do at College of DuPage. Faculty, staff and administration want our students to succeed and do their best to make that happen.

I congratulate all students on a job well-done and encourage them to continue pursuing their goals, passions and dreams.

• Ann Rondeau is president of the College of DuPage. Her column runs monthly in Neighbor.

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