Student Spotlight: Teal Russeau
As a high school senior, Teal Russeau wasn’t ready to leave the comfortable environment of her high school, let alone her family and hometown.
“Not only did I feel unprepared for the emotional aspect of going away, I also was unsure of my career path,” she said. “While my friends were looking into Big Ten schools and state universities, I was still reconciling the idea of going to college in the first place. I was led to believe that, as an ‘A-level kid’ in the top 5 percent of her class, I was meant to be at a prestigious or Big Ten school. So I struggled with the internal battle of my nostalgic feelings and the societal pressure of ‘fitting in.’”
Russeau discussed her struggles with one of her high school teachers and mentor, Erin Axelsen. That discussion helped Russeau realize that selecting College of DuPage was the right choice for her. She then applied for the Presidential Scholarship, which provides tuition for two years to high-achieving students.
“I had worked hard in high school, and knew that my grades would take me anywhere I wanted to go. After making my decision, my high school counselor explained the requirements and rewards of the Presidential Scholarship. Looking back, I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and I would not change anything about my COD journey if I could,” she said.
With the scholarship firmly in hand, Russeau started at COD, unsure of a major. Although she always had a passion for English and school, she never knew if teaching was meant for her.
During her first semester, Russeau enrolled in Introduction to Education. It took only one week for Russeau to know she wanted a career where she helped people.
“Reading and writing have been my strengths since a young age, and my love for learning has greatly influenced my desire to help students,” she said. “I have always been enthralled with the loving and comforting environment of school, and the maturation that I experienced throughout high school is a major factor in my decision to pursue secondary education. The impact of Erin Axelsen in my life has solidified this decision, because I would love to emulate my wonderful mentor.”
In 2015, Russeau earned her Associate in Arts degree and was named one of the College’s Outstanding Graduate finalists. She also received the North Central College Transfer Scholarship, a full-tuition award presented annually to one COD student.
While she initially majored in English and secondary education with a minor in Spanish, Russeau graduated magna cum laude with bachelor’s degrees in English and Psychology, with minors in Spanish and Gender/Women’s Studies. She was also a member of Psi Chi, the Psychology National Honors Society, and the Public Relations chair of a mental health awareness club on campus, for which she launched a new blog promoting hope and recovery.
After graduation, Russeau moved to Columbia, S.C., where she works as an admission counselor at Midlands Technical College.
“In this position, my entire job is showing people that they are capable of college, helping them through the process, and making sure they are not fooled by the ‘community college stigma,’” she said. “I am also in the process of applying to start my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 2019 in order to pursue my dreams of counseling adolescents, teaching young people and researching minority populations.”
As for College of DuPage, she is outspoken about how others should perceive it.
“Do not get caught up in the overbearing societal attitudes and beliefs about college. Despite what anyone says or thinks, attending a community college is NOT lame, stupid or fake,” she said. “In fact, not only will you save more money than any of your friends in the long run, the experiences you have at COD are also guaranteed to be more influential, beneficial and valuable because of the different atmosphere offered on campus and in the classroom.
“I genuinely hope that my story and others like it can reverse the nonsensical ‘community college stigma.’ Honestly, I truly believe that my choice to attend COD was the best decision I have made in my life thus far.”
College of DuPage
425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn IL, 60137
(630) 942-2800 (Main)
(630) 942-3000 (Student Services)
2019 College of DuPage