Student Spotlight: Colleen Zavodny

Colleen Zavodny

Colleen Zavodny
Major: Human Services

Colleen Zavodny originally planned on a career in criminal justice.

While studying at College of DuPage, she took extra classes in psychology and human services. It was the latter
subject that led Zavodny to shift her focus.

"After taking a class in human services, I decided that my heart was in social work, although I still wanted to work with law enforcement and use my criminal justice background," she said.

Zavodny earned her bachelor's degree in Behavioral Sciences from National-Louis University. She currently works for the YWCA in Glendale Heights as an advocate for survivors of sexual violence at both the micro and macro levels.  She supervises approximately 20 volunteers in order to maintain 24-hour coverage of the hotline and hospital/legal advocacy programs. 

"Every day I go to work, I get to help individuals work within the systems along with educating the public about the issues of sexual assault, and I help with making policy changes to better assist survivors of sexual assault," she said. "I am able to use my background in criminal justice to do roll call trainings at police departments while teaching new volunteers how to work in a collaborative relationship with law enforcement.

"While my work is emotionally challenging because I am working with people who have experienced a heinous crime and significant trauma, I am blessed to know that at the end of the work day I have helped someone who might otherwise have slipped through the system if not for the work of the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago Patterson and McDaniel Family Center."

Currently, Zavodny is searching for master's programs to enter. Eventually, she would like to have a role in social change by becoming more active in community organizing, education and legislative policy. She thanks College of DuPage for giving her a start.

"I wanted to be the first in my immediate family to graduate with a degree but also wanted an affordable and quality education," she said. "COD not only gave me an education that has allowed me to succeed in my career but also taught me about my community and the resources within it. All of my teachers encouraged me to become involved with school activities and volunteerism within the community, which has allowed me to network with many different organizations and become a better advocate for those I work with now."

More about the Human Services program