Student Spotlight: Emily Halper
Major: Earth Science
As a child, Emily Halper loved spending time in the water.
“Growing up in a financially struggling household was rough. Whenever my stress got the best of me, I found myself in the bathtub, the shower or in our pool on late summer nights,” she said. “The older I got, the further I traveled and discovered lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls – I was always drawn to them.”
But oceanography was not her first career option. In fact, it never crossed Halper’s mind because it didn’t seem practical. Instead, she wanted to pursue nursing and become a midwife, so she came to College of DuPage because of its strong Nursing program and 3+1 agreement with Benedictine University to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
However, after starting her coursework, Halper wasn’t happy with her choice. The next summer, she got a second job as a lifeguard instead of taking classes.
“Being a lifeguard was one of the best decisions of my life,” she said. “It was that summer of being by the water at the pool that I really appreciated how much the element of water meant to me and how genuinely fascinated I was with the marine ecosystems. So I made the decision to change my major.”
Now in the Earth Science program, Halper discovered some of the most passionate teachers she ever met and is standing up to critics who don’t understand the importance of her major.
“My professors are very educated and articulate, and they spend time with you in order to make sure you understand the knowledge they are passing on,” she said. “However, some people claim this is not secure enough for a suitable career. My mother asked me when I would ever use the information I learned in class to apply to real life.
“But earth is our home. In class, we’ve learned so much from why our seasons are when they are to being able to find your latitude based on the angle of the North Star. The things we do in day-to-day life are affected by the earth and so we must better understand the processes in order to adapt.”
After earning her Associate in Science degree, Halper plans to transfer to Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale and get both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in marine biology. For a career, she would like to study marine creatures and is interested in rehabilitation work with marine animals. She also would like to be involved with conservation work in the oceans, examining coral reefs and other unique ecosystems.
College of DuPage is giving Halper the opportunity to gain experience in her field at an affordable price. She also can explore other interests and get a feel for what she wants to do with her life.
“The College makes taking the first steps into higher education easier,” she said. “On a more personal level, I would like to say to fellow students that it is OK to mess up sometimes, it is OK to change your mind, and it is OK for you to take a break. Nowadays there is pressure on us to come to school with a specific plan and goal in mind, but that is not always the case. Life is messy and it can throw you for a loop at any time. But it shows that nothing is set and stone and it is never too late to change.
“Find something you are passionate about and pursue it wholeheartedly. As a College of DuPage student, use the diversity of the College to your advantage and gain experience so you can figure out your plan and end goal.”
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