Student Spotlight: Jennifer Chiavola
Major: Associate in Arts
Jennifer Chiavola realized a dream that took over a decade to come to fruition – a diploma from College of DuPage.
Then she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology and Ethics and Moral Philosophy from Loyola University Chicago and a Master of Arts degree in Christian Ethics from Yale University.
“I was in my mid-20s and thought I’d missed my window of opportunity to go to college,” she said.
Chiavola, a single mother at the time, worked two jobs and registered for one course at a time. When her car needed a repair or a bill needed to be paid, she took a semester off, always returning the next session for another class.
“I loved it. I have always valued an education,” she said. “I just took it one semester at a time.”
Despite all her achievements, Chiavola admits that while she was excited to attend Yale, she did not underestimate the challenges in front of her.
“I worked so hard, but I feel like it’s possible for anyone who sets their mind to it to achieve the same goal.”
Chiavola credits her academic achievements to the strong foundation she received at College of DuPage as well as the encouragement of faculty, especially now-retired Allan Carter. He always challenged her to achieve more and continues to offer his support and guidance.
“He was one of the first instructors I had at the College and he’s been so motivating, one of my greatest mentors,” she said.
For Chiavola, the eradication of poverty became her focus. While at Loyola, she traveled to El Salvador for two weeks, studying the reality firsthand.
“It’s one thing to study statistics and theory on poverty, but it’s another to see it and put a face to it,” she said.
While at Yale, a professor teaching a course on the “Feminization of Poverty” encouraged her to consider a career in higher education by imparting the wisdom, “If we want to change the world, we must work to educate women.”
Chiavola feels she has now come full circle, not only working in higher education but doing so at College of DuPage, helping others to achieve their academic and professional goals. She firmly believes education not only changes lives but also can change the world.
“There is no where I’d rather be than COD, the institution that made everything possible for me.”
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