Student Spotlight: Jesus Pineda
Major: Electronics Technology
Thanks to a dual credit agreement with College of DuPage, Jesus Pineda first began taking classes in electronics and electrical engineering at the Technology Center of DuPage while still in high school.
It was a great learning experience, although he wasn't sure he’d ever attend college.
“I was frustrated in high school. I had a low ACT, so I had little to no expectations about going to college,” he said. “I also felt like I had no support.”
After high school, Pineda found a job at Teledyne Technologies. He was making a decent salary, but he wanted something more.
“I wondered whether I should just be proud of graduating from high school or find out if I was good enough to make it in college,” he said. “I didn’t want to be 50 and have ‘what if?’ moments. I knew it was a big risk, but I needed to try so I applied to College of DuPage.”
Pineda also knew that financial assistance was necessary, so he decided to apply for a variety of scholarships, including the Hispanic Latino Scholarship for $1,000.
“I knew I couldn't go to college without some help. When I received notification that I got the scholarship, I thought it was a typo and I waited for a retraction,” he said. “Five minutes turned into three days and then a few weeks, and I realized it was for real. That gave me a push to be dedicated.”
Pineda took it one semester at a time, starting with lower-level math, reading and writing. Soon he was taking electronics classes to major in Electronics Technology and found support and guidance from Branislav Rosul, now-retired professor of Electronics Technology and Electro-Mechanical Technology. Pineda began earning above-average grades, and he applied for more scholarships. In fall 2010, he received the $3,000 Magnetrol scholarship, and the next year he received the $500 Joos Memorial Scholarship for first generation college students. All told, Pineda earned five scholarships during his time at COD. He also worked part-time in the College's Community Relations department.
Having accomplished so much, Pineda could have finished his education with an associate's degree. But he wasn’t ready to stop.
“I heard people talking about transferring all the time,” he said. “I saw bumper stickers with big-name universities and tried to picture myself at one of them. When I talked to Branislav, we determined that a bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering Technology would be the best fit for me. He suggested either Southern Illinois University or Northern Illinois University. When I visited NIU, I liked what I saw so I applied.”
Pineda earned his Associate in Applied Science degree in Electronics Technology, graduating with honors and as a member of both Alpha Mu Gamma and Alpha Beta Gamma. He then transferred to NIU into the Electrical Engineering Technology program, having already received a transfer scholarship. He was awarded two additional scholarships and was inducted into Nu Epsilon Tau, the Technology Honors Society, and Tau Sigma, the Transfer Honors Society. He also was a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineering (SHPE) and the CEET Ambassador’s Club.
Having earned his bachelor’s degree with high honors, he is now considering either entering the workforce or continuing his education. He recently was accepted into the EET master’s program at Purdue University.
In addition to Rosul, Pineda credits Bob Cannella, the Electronics Lab coordinator, Lubna Haque, assistant professor of Chemistry, Caroline Soo, associate professor of math, and Robert Dixon-Kolar, instructor of English, for their support and guidance, as well as counselor Michael Duggan and Cynthia Johnson, Community Development specialist.
“I was lost before coming to COD,” he said. “I just felt like I was always at a disadvantage because of my struggles in high school, my financial situation and being a minority. But now I have a college degree, and I don't have to wonder anymore if I was good enough to do it. I owe it all to College of DuPage. It has helped me get to where I am today.”
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