Student Spotlight: Debbie Cascio

Debbie Cascio

Debbie Cascio
Major: Associate in General Studies

Debbie Cascio originally came to College of DuPage fresh out of high school, staying for two quarters. But with no direction, she entered the workforce as an administrative assistant with the encouragement of her mother.

After marrying and having children, she stayed at home before returning to work in customer service. Then she moved to the National University of Health Sciences in Lombard, where she currently works as undergraduate coordinator and international admissions counselor.

“I’m happy at the university and I love what I do, but if something happened to my job or I decided to move on, it’s likely I wouldn’t be considered because this field now requires a degree,” she said. “As I encouraged other women to pursue their degrees at National, I realized I should take my own advice. I told myself ‘one semester’ and then I’d see how I felt. To my own surprise, I loved it!”

Cascio enjoyed the variety of classes she was required to take, from history to sociology. She was also surprised at the number of nontraditional-aged students on campus.

“Every piece of knowledge I gained made me a better person,” she said. “I also took classes just for fun that often led me to explore new things. For example, I enrolled in a hiking class that included a week-long trip.

“There is anxiety being a non-traditional student, but I was always treated just like any other student and my professors appreciated and acknowledged my hard work. It’s been such an empowering journey.”

Cascio, who earned her Associate in General Studies in 2014, is now enrolled in the online bachelor’s degree program at Columbia College in Columbia, Mo. She completed approximately 90 credit hours at COD and was pleased almost all of them transferred to Columbia. She was initially nervous about taking 8-week courses, but she was able to adjust quickly, immersing herself in the subject by taking one class at a time.

She currently has put her studies on hold to help an ailing relative. However, her goal is to finish a bachelor’s in General Studies and a minor in Women’s Studies.

“Returning to school so much later in life has made my confidence go through the roof. It’s a soul-satisfying experience. If I could give advice to someone out there contemplating this huge undertaking, it would be to start now and don’t wait. Challenging yourself with an education reaps rewards that you can’t even imagine. And getting your first ‘A’ feels like a golden halo was placed on your head. It’s the best!”

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