Student Spotlight: Colette Jordan
Major: Human Services/
Adult Fast Track
Colette Jordan credits divine intervention with the course of events that saved her life the year she was diagnosed with end stage liver disease.
"It sounds weird to say, but it really must have been fate," Jordan said. "I was number 1,746 on the list (for a new liver). I was on the list for six days before I got the call."
In the six months before her transplant in 2006, Jordan was in and out of the intensive care unit numerous times. Her illness and recovery following surgery made it impossible to continue in her job as a teacher's aide and before- and after-school site director in Lisle.
"Obviously, working with kids is a germy environment," she said. "I kind of felt the need to do something more profound, I guess you could say."
Jordan's husband encouraged her to enroll in college classes. She supported him when he went back to school in 1990 and now it was her turn. As a student in COD's Adult Fast Track program, she maintained a 4.0 GPA and graduated in 2010 with her associate's degree in Human Services.
During Jordan's years at College of DuPage, she was a charter officer of the Tau Upsilon Alpha Human Services Honor Society, was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and was named to the First Team of the 2009 All-USA Community College Academic Competition. She also founded the College of DuPage Students for Organ Donation and led two successful Donate Life Illinois Campus Challenges.
She also was named one of the two Outstanding Graduates in 2010.
"When I first heard that I was named outstanding graduate, I felt proud and extremely emotional," she said. "Beyond feeling honored to be chosen, I was overwhelmed by thoughts of how far I had come, and how much I had grown, since starting my undergraduate studies at COD in August 2007."
During Jordan's first semester, COD's Service Learning program connected her with Gift of Hope, the organization that made it possible for her to receive the transplant. During her final year, she started an internship with Gift of Hope, the first time the organization has partnered with COD for an internship.
"I was able to apply the knowledge received in college and through my personal experience with near death and subsequent rebirth," she said. "I would never have been afforded these opportunities were it not for COD."
Jordan transferred into Governors State University's Psychology program and plans to finish in 2012 with her bachelor's degree. In October 2011, she landed a job with DuPage County as an Information & Assistance Specialist in the Senior Services division.
"Currently I serve the 60 and over population -- nearly 1 million of them -- with whatever their needs are, from doing intakes for our Community Care Program taking elder abuse and ombudsman reports, to filing Circuit Breaker and comparing Medicare Part D plans," she said. "It is a gratifying position where each day I come home knowing that I have helped someone in need of services in our community."
Her bachelor's degree will allow her to move up the ladder at DuPage County and possibly into Case Management. Jordan continues to volunteer in the organ donation field as vice president of Organ Transplant Support Group, Inc., counseling people waiting for transplants, and for the Secretary of State's Organ and Tissue Donor Program, raising awareness of the critical shortage of organs for transplant and registering donors on the State Donor Registry.
She's thankful that her husband encouraged her to return to school. She even had the thrill of sharing her COD commencement ceremony alongside her son, Ryan, who also graduated from COD.
"Every parent hopes that they set a good example for their children," she said. "Hopefully, steadfast determination at my advanced age has shown Ryan that, with a positive attitude and strong work ethic, he should not fear the unknown because he can accomplish anything he sets his mind to.
"For anyone considering a return to school after any notable hiatus, just do it. You will be challenged and enriched in ways you have never dreamed possible. Sometimes you'll question your ability to succeed, but keep persisting. You'll never regret your decision to pursue your dreams."