Student Spotlight: Adriana Mendez
Major: Computer Information
Adriana Mendez was 15 years old and living in a small town in south Mexico with a family of 10.
“My parents wanted me to quit school at the age of 16 to stay home and help my mother with the chores,” she said. “But what my parents wanted for me was not what I wanted for my life. Life wasn’t easy, but I was hungry to learn more and more.”
Mendez never lost that spirit and knew her life would change someday. She came to the U.S. at the age of 17 but instead of attending school, she had to work to help her parents support two younger siblings.
More than a decade later, at the age of 28, Mendez finally had her chance. A mother for the first time, she found in her daughter the motivation to continue dreaming.
“When she was 1 year old, I started taking GED classes at College of DuPage,” she said. “For one year, I had to study until three in the morning. It was the only time that I had available to study because I had to work 40 hours a week and take care of my daughter. It was not easy at all, but I never complained. I didn’t care how tired I felt. I never gave up.”
Mendez earned her GED in 2012 and then enrolled in an ESL program at COD.
“I thought that English was a big obstacle in my life, but after a couple of years of study, and thanks to the teachers at COD, I have learned a lot of English, enough to start taking college classes,” she said.
In addition to her studies, Mendez has earned several scholarships through the COD Foundation, including the GED Scholarship and the Danny Young Memorial Scholarship. These have helped with the costs associated with college, as she continues to work 40 hours a week and take care of her daughter.
“Getting these types of awards makes me feel that I am not as alone as I always thought. They motivate me to continue my studies.”
Since she is a part-time student, Mendez said it will take a few years before she finishes her associate’s degree in Computer Information Systems.
In 2017, with enough college credits completed, she applied for a new position at her company in quality assurance for the Information Services department. After being coached for the interview by COD’s Career Services office, Mendez was offered the job.
“After I worked so hard taking CIS classes, I am finally seeing results,” she said. “My new manager told me that all the classes I finished at COD played a big role in hiring me. I passed from being a simple machine operator to a quality assurance person. I will now be working with computer programmers to help them identify problems. I am very happy because I know this is the start of my career dream.”
Mendez is thankful that College of DuPage has provided education, skills and a positive influence on her life.
“I would highly recommend this college because it is a place where we can find good people, counselors and teachers who are willing to help us succeed in our education,” she said.
“My purpose is to prove to people that no matter how difficult your life is, if you put your heart into it, you can have whatever you want. My goal also is to be a good example to others who think that because English is not their primary language, they can’t go to a university. I have learned that nothing is impossible. I have overcome all the obstacles I have had, and I am ready to make my dream a reality and become successful in my life.”
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