Student Spotlight: Elissa Pancoe
Elissa Pancoe was always curious about fitness and self-improvement, but she became really health conscious due to bad experiences with allopathic medicine.
“I intended to go into public health but realized in my first semester back at College of DuPage that I wasn’t passionate enough with the environment to go into environmental health or urban gardening,” she said. “Some books about spontaneous remission led me to health psychology research.”
Her path to College of DuPage was initially to take two theater classes for fun and a business class to satisfy her parents. However, she didn’t withdraw from the business class properly and had no idea it was on her transcript as an “F.” When she later tried to attend another university, she was told to come back to COD, raise her GPA and then transfer.
Pancoe did just that, taking advantage of the open admission policy and inexpensive cost. In addition, she took classes for fun, such as horticulture and computers, which allowed her to more fully explore topics that interested her.
She also earned several merit scholarships through the College of DuPage Foundation, such as the Rotary Club of Naperville Charities Scholarship.
Pancoe transferred to Loyola University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, maintaining a high GPA and joining the Golden Key International Honors Society, the Tau Sigma Honors Society for transfer students and the Psi Chi Honors Society. However, she wasn’t enjoying her major or the commute from the suburbs.
Instead, she transferred back to College of DuPage for two terms and completed more prerequisites before enrolling at DePaul University to study computer science and data science.
“I already valued the low cost and high convenience of COD, but having spent a year with three hours of commuting just puts it over the top,” she said. “I’d recommend going to COD for the vast majority of people, but if you leave and then change majors, I’d recommend most people return to COD.”
While at DePaul, she was inducted into the Upsilon Pi Epsilon honors society. However, taking two user experience design classes for her major felt like a breath of fresh air, so she is now majoring in User Experience Design with a minor in IT and will actually graduate one quarter sooner than expected.
“I thought that all the major changing stuff was behind me after I transferred back out of COD. But if you are committed to being fulfilled with what you do, you never stop evolving,” she said. “I learned not to settle for anything that isn’t right, just figure out how to land on your feet in some other way. And, of course, the semester system is one more thing to love about COD.”
Pancoe is glad that she could return to College of DuPage and prepare herself for transfer.
“For people going back to school after a lot of time off, it can be very daunting to take math classes after realizing you forgot everything you learned back in high school,” she said. “But if you’re patient, you can get through remedial classes and get back up to speed. Nobody wants to do that, but it’s not as hard as it sounds once you just start showing up and doing it.
“I think that my mistake with the business class was a giant blessing in disguise, because so much money was saved by returning to COD rather than enrolling in a four-year university. Unless you have amazing scholarships or are very rich, it is not worth it to spend four years at a more expensive school. I had quite a few great professors at COD who could hold their own at any four-year institution. I also took horticulture classes that helped me with my garden, which is of major importance to me as a health-conscious person, and I took computer repair classes that taught me how to build my own computer. The knowledge was priceless with how much I use my computer and garden.”
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