When Julia Andersen started at College of DuPage, she was deciding between a major in English and one in film.
“I’ve been interested in both as fields of study since I was young and messing around with a video camera the size of my 4-year-old torso,” she said. “Although I’m sure my story of non-stop home movie-making isn’t unique, it also isn’t something I’ve grown out of. As for English, I’ve always loved books, and in third grade my teacher helped me ‘publish’ a story I’d written. I typed it up on the computer and laminated the cover. That was a very exciting experience for 8-year-old me.”
Attending College of DuPage gave Andersen the time to decide which field to pursue before committing to a four-year university. Financially, it was the best option, especially after she was named a Presidential Scholar, an honor that includes a full-tuition scholarship and enrollment in COD’s Honors program and the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society.
“I loved being a Presidential Scholar! Not only was my tuition free – my bank account rejoiced – but I was automatically placed in the Honors program, which led me to some really interesting classes and helped me meet great new people,” she said. “All the classes I took were of a high caliber, but I found that I got the most enjoyment and fulfillment from my Honors classes, when I was surrounded with other students eager to work together on the challenging material the teachers provided.”
One of Andersen’s greatest experiences at COD has been as an associate editor for the Prairie Light Review, the College’s literary arts magazine. Her work also has been selected for ESSAI, an annual publication featuring the best academic writing by COD students.
“My dream job is either working at a literary magazine or writing books,” she said. “I’d like to write young adult literature, and I’m interested in worldbuilding – the idea of creating a fictional universe – something Libba Bray and Sarah Rees Brennan, two authors I love, do really well.”
Outside of the classroom, Andersen volunteers at the Glen Ellyn Children’s Resource Center, where she has worked one-on-one as a tutor with the same student for two years as well as supervising other students during their free time.
In 2015, Andersen was selected as one of the two Outstanding Graduates for the College. She transferred to Illinois State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a focus on publishing studies and graduated summa cum laude. She currently is working as an Adult Services Associate at the Naperville Public Library and as a substitute teacher with Glenbard Township High School District 87. She has completed the first semester of her Master of Library Science degree program and plans to apply to the School Library Licensure program, after which she would like to work as middle or high school librarian.
“I’m excited to combine so many things I love – many of which I was able to gain exposure to through COD, including education and library science – into a single career,” she said.
Andersen is thankful for everything that College of DuPage provided for her.
“Of course, if COD wasn’t so excellent in so many other respects as well – academics, extracurriculars, the list goes on – I would have just decided to grit my teeth and bear the student loans,” she said. “In the end, I was really impressed by COD’s focus on the students, the quality of the education, and the range of opportunities for campus involvement. I was also able to work at a job I really enjoy near home, an opportunity I don’t think I would’ve had if I’d gone a different route.
“My advice for others is to go for it! Apply for any scholarships you qualify for, take the tours, bring it up with your counselor if they haven’t already discussed it with you. Unfortunately, my senior counselor was not a big advocate for COD. I found myself convincing him that this was the right place for me to start. So remember, you know yourself better than anyone. If you think you’d like to start here, then do it. COD provides a top-notch education and plenty of excellent opportunities at an affordable price. Personally, I highly recommend it.”