Student Spotlight: Ricardo Pelaez

Student Spotlight: Ricardo Pelaez

Ricardo Pelaez
Major: Mathematics

When he was younger, Ricardo Pelaez never paid much attention to school.

“This was especially true of math and science classes, so when I returned to school, I was very interested in learning about them,” he said. “Once I started taking my first classes, I found them very fascinating.”

Pelaez had not been in school for 10 years when he started at College of DuPage, which also was the first school he attended in the U.S. His initial goal was to earn an Associate in Science degree and complete prerequisites so he could transfer to pharmacy school. After researching colleges, he determined that COD was the best option for pre-pharmacy students.

What impressed him most was the dedication of the professors.

“They are very passionate about teaching and make sure students are successful at achieving their goals,” he said. “In my case, COD helped me acquire the necessary knowledge such as strong math skills, writing, public speaking and science. All of these combined opened my eyes to a whole new world of knowledge and possibilities that, in turn, gave me the necessary confidence to make better personal and professional decisions.”

This included changing his career focus to opening a restaurant. Pelaez has been in the restaurant business since the age of 19 and was a full-time head chef for an international corporation while attending COD.

He specifically credits his math classes for his decision and even made a video for COD as a Math Ambassador.

“I gained so much confidence after taking so many math courses that I felt I could do anything,” he said. “Since the restaurant is where I had the most extensive experience, I decided to use my newly acquired knowledge and confidence to start Hachi Japanese Grill & Sushi in Hoffman Estates.”

Pelaez likes to dream big, so he would like to open additional locations and then offer franchises across the country. He is thankful for his time at College of DuPage and advises other students to take advantage of the College’s many resources.   

“Talk to advisors, because they can all help by informing you and answering the many questions you may have about COD,” he said. “COD has many great resources such as a great library, study rooms, an assistance center, and very supportive professors who are happy to help you. I still see many of my former professors when they come to visit me at my restaurant.

“I’m thankful I had the opportunity to study at COD. I enjoyed learning and meeting all the nice faculty and staff who made this one of the best experiences of my life. I will always remember COD as my ladder to success.”

More about the Math program 

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