Student Spotlight: John and James Payne

John and James Payne

John and James Payne
Major: Math/Accounting

Like father, like son. Well, not exactly. John and James Payne came to College of DuPage for very different reasons.

Son James enrolled in Calculus III at COD during summer break from the University of Illinois, needing to retake a course he struggled with during his freshman year. James returned the next summer for a second math course with COD professor Robert Cappetta, who made quite an impression on him.

“I really enjoyed my experience at COD. I liked the smaller class size, the hands-on approach and a good teacher who definitely helped me to develop better study habits,” said James, who has earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Chicago and is a post-doctoral assignment at Stanford University.

James, who is currently on a post-doctorate assignment with Stanford University, said his dad was his ride that first summer at COD – and what a ride it became for the elder Payne. When the marketing and strategic planning professional took early retirement, he wanted to challenge himself and explore subjects outside his comfort zone.

John started with a Latin correspondence course through the University of Illinois. Often, he studied at COD while his son was in math class. Paging through the COD course catalog, the father of three found just what he was looking for.

“I saw all these accounting courses I could take,” said John, who holds a master’s degree in humanities. “People don’t think about intermediate and advanced accounting courses being offered at a community college. I don’t think people understand how good the teaching is here.”

While working on an advanced accounting certificate, he also took a number of physical education and computer courses, and even a math course from Professor Cappetta. All told, John completed approximately 170 hours, both academic and non-academic, at COD.

John took a hiatus from accounting but not from other courses, including one on how the mind works entitled “From Neurons to Culture” and an honors seminar on “Utopias.” As he prepares for the next step – taking the accounting course from the MBA program at Wharton and then the Certified Public Accountant exam – this dad expects more homework ahead.

“I may be taking some science classes – so I can talk to my son!” he said.

John took a challenging honors seminar, “Physics and Society,” regarding climate change with Tom Carter and Chris Goergen, and then hiked in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park on a COD Field Studies trip. In 2018, he traveled to the Southern Cascades in Oregon and California and to the Pictured Rocks in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula during Field Studies courses. He is taking more honors courses in astronomy (“The Solar System”) and English (“Exploring the Literature of War”).

All told, he has completed about 325 hours of study, of which 210 are for credit.

“My experience is a testament to the wide range of quality courses offered by COD, far more than one would expect from a community college,” he said.

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