Student Spotlight: Eftalda Becka
Eftalda Becka enjoyed a smooth but unusual transition from high school to college. She graduated from Preca College, an English-speaking high school for Albanians, and crossed the Atlantic to study at College of DuPage.
“My parents are optimistic about my future, and that is what makes them not regret coming to the United States,” she explained. “My father once said, ‘Our daughter will earn what we lost when we moved here and she will reach farther.’
“Since the very first semester, I was able to take challenging courses and then became part of the Honors program. At the same time, I joined the Engineering Club, the Leadership Club and Phi Theta Kappa. I also enjoyed being among students with whom I can share common interests and ideas,” Becka said.
During the summer of 2009, Becka was part of a summer science research program at Illinois State University. In 2010, she was part of an astro-chemistry summer internship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Tom Carter, professor of Physics at College of DuPage, said Becka takes great joy in learning new things.
“Eftalda has all the makings of a great research scientist. She’s sharp, and she’s motivated. I suspect she’s going to be a science student that COD will be proud of,” he said.
Becka credits Carter for his advice, particularly his suggestion that she apply to research programs. This led to the programs at ISU and UIUC, both funded by the National Science Foundation and were specifically for undergraduate students.
Becka is currently studying chemical engineering at UIUC and will graduate in May 2013. While at UIUC, she worked as a research assistant to Dr. Benjamin McCall and studied the nuclear spin dependence of the chemical reaction in a hollow cathode plasma cell. She also worked as a research assistant to Dr. Brendan Harley, where she fabricated a brain-mimetic Extra Cellular Matrix platform by using photo-crosslinked polymers to understand the aggressive invasion of glioma cells.
In addition, Becka is a quartermaster and chemical equipment technician in the Illinois National Guard. She plans to pursue post-baccalaureate work, including a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, and then start a career in a research laboratory.
She's grateful to COD for giving her a strong start on her career.
“I really enjoyed the helpful professors and the small classes,” Becka said. “COD’s classes are also strong academically.”