Student Spotlight: Elizabeth Nwokobia
Life has presented more than its share of challenges to Elizabeth Nwokobia, yet she has seized the opportunities presented to her.
This includes College of DuPage, where she is excelling in her studies. But her path to COD was not easy. She was adopted at five weeks, a mother at 16 and a widow at 22. She then embarked on a successful career in real estate, obtaining her broker's license. After this, she focused on appraisals, became a Certified Residential Appraiser and found success.
Unfortunately, when the economy changed in 2008 and the bank she worked for closed in 2009, Nwokobia found herself out of a job.
"I felt like a failure," she said. "Something had to happen."
When a foreclosure default judgment was made against her because she could no longer make mortgage payments, Nwokobia -- unable to afford an attorney -- researched her own case, represented herself in court and was able to get the judgment revised. As a result of her research skills, she landed a job at a real estate foreclosure law firm in DuPage County.
But school was on her mind, and she thought about studying law or possibly economics, as her father is an economist.
"He instilled in me the value of going to school," she said. "Those values will always be in me."
After researching schools, Nwokobia chose College of DuPage for its excellent reputation. She studied the course catalog for hours and was impressed by the breadth of classes offered. Enrolling in fall 2011, she selected classes that helped meet requirements and maintain her interest. These included English 1101 and 1102, both in eight-week formats, macroeconomics, and environmental biology. This ambitious schedule was combined with working full time and raising six children.
"I was intent not on the grades but on the knowledge to cure my curiosity of learning different subjects of interest to me," she said. "I surprised even myself by earning straight A's. Earning a 4.0 after my first year opened the door to so many possibilities once I finished at COD."
Nwokobia also participated in the Costa Rica Study Abroad program, which she called "intense" while allowing her to learn the language, culture and economics of that country.
Through her experiences at College of DuPage, Nwokobia decided to combine many of her interests and found a program she wanted to pursue -- Land Economy, which considers the role and use of land, real estate and environment within an economy. The only university in the world offering this specific program is the University of Cambridge. So she applied, was invited to interview and was accepted.
"During my real estate career, I wanted to incorporate sustainable living within my residential practice," she said. "Seeking ways to implement these practices, I found that the industry was not developed enough to effectively bring renewable resources to current homeowners in an affordable manner. I want to be at the forefront of opportunity and change to forecast and assist in developing systems which will lead to a higher quality of life."
Nwokobia will complete her Associate in Arts with honors by the end of 2013, and her goal is to secure the funding that will allow her to enter the program at Cambridge in 2014. She thanks College of DuPage for giving her opportunities to explore.
"The whole experience of education is pulling my family together," she said. "Even though I'm a young mother, we're all going to school, we're all working together, and I can tutor them when they need it.
"COD has been amazing! The phenomenal breadth of resources is terrific -- the Library, the Learning Commons. Peer Tutoring is great because you learn tips from other students who have passed these courses. Counseling is always available, especially Chris Johnston. And I learned how to manage my time, resources, interests and priorities.
"I can't say anything bad about College of DuPage. I'm happy to be at the most successful community college in the nation. It's been an invaluable stepping stone, a gateway to wherever I go in the future."
2012 College of DuPage