Program: Paralegal Studies
When Carol Carlson-Nofsinger was an undergraduate, she was inspired by a professor who urged her to continue her education.
“We talked about my strengths and decided law school would be a great path for me to pursue,” said Carlson-Nofsinger, who selected the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law. “Once I was there, I gravitated toward real estate classes. My first job was working primarily in real estate and corporate law, and I enjoyed working with clients on these issues.”
After practicing law for a year, Carlson-Nofsinger decided to give back by taking a part-time teaching job at Roosevelt University.
“At the law firm where I worked, I would train paralegals. So when a position came up to teach paralegals, I felt it was a perfect fit for me,” she said.
Since 1997, she has taught part-time at College of DuPage, first in the Real Estate program and then in the Paralegal Studies program after it was created, and she currently holds the lecturer position in the Paralegal program. She believes that educational opportunities should be accessible and affordable for everyone and that the lifelong learning process should never end.
“I tell my students regularly that an education is never wasted, even though they may end up pursuing other careers and goals unrelated to their discipline,” she said. “I want to see them succeed, grow professionally and eventually give back to the community.”
Carlson-Nofsinger credits the Paralegal Studies program and coordinator Sally N. Fairbank for giving students experiences that they would not have in other programs. These include unique courses like “Drafting Legal Documents,” which Carlson-Nofsinger teaches, and the Paralegal Portfolio Expo, during which program graduates and practicum completers demonstrate what they’ve learned through their portfolios, which she helps to review.
In addition, she helped to develop and currently teaches “Contract Law,” “Real Property Law,” “Distressed Real Estate: Foreclosures, Short Sales, Bankruptcy and Taxes” and “Introduction to Paralegal Studies” at College of DuPage. She also teaches classes that help real estate agents prepare for the Illinois real estate broker license exam.
For the 2013-2014 academic year, Carlson-Nofsinger was named College of DuPage’s Overall Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Member.
One of her greatest joys is hearing from her students after they have graduated and learning of their successes, whether it’s working in a law firm or selling real estate. In fact, Carlson-Nofsinger still corresponds with students from the courses she taught at Roosevelt.
“There’s so much reward in helping clients satisfy their legal needs, but teaching sparks a passion in me,” she said. “I’ve practiced law for so long that I feel I have a wealth of experience to bring to the classroom.
“Many of my students have been outsourced or downsized and need to find new jobs. When they enroll in the program, they work so hard and are both excited and positive about starting a new career. I’m glad that I can play a role in helping them do so.”