Stephany Ruiz-Gonzalez has always been fascinated with math and science.
“I knew engineering was for me when I found out I could help the world by applying these subjects that interest me,” she said. “I also knew that wherever I went to college, I would be willing to put the hard work into being successful.”
But it wasn’t a given that Ruiz-Gonzalez could attend college. When she was awarded a Presidential Scholarship from College of DuPage, which includes full tuition, she knew she could finally pursue her dream.
“At one point, I feared not being able to afford school. The Presidential Scholarship alone meant so much to me,” she said. “I received more than just a couple of paid classes. College of DuPage was the school that was financially able to give me the ability to pursue personal and professional goals and strengthen my dreams of making a difference in the world.”
Between coursework, student clubs and her participation on both the cross country and track teams, Ruiz-Gonzalez embarked on making the college experience her own.
“The education at COD was rigorous and enriching, which gave me the edge I needed in my field. The amount of support I found from the faculty and staff was enormous. In every department, from Admissions to Student Life, I saw the willingness of the staff to help students succeed,” she said. “Being a member in a variety of clubs, each one allowed me to learn, apply skills, network, enjoy myself and simply develop as a person. As an athlete running two successful seasons of Cross Country and one of Track and Field, I was able to go to nationals three times. This meant my personal goals were met because COD has these programs for their students.”
After earning her associate’s degree, Ruiz-Gonzalez transferred to the University of Illinois at Chicago to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering, which she learned about from UIC Professor Houshang Darabi during COD’s Explore Engineering Night.
“I always knew I wanted to use my talents in math and science to help others, but it was COD’s many resources that allowed me to find my niche,” she said. “COD is also where I learned how to build relationships, use my resources and have fun at school. Then when I got to the UIC campus, I was able to use those same skills to build another amazing college experience. I was part of countless engineering and leadership organizations and held the position of president of the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers.
“That spirit of involvement that I developed at COD also opened many professional doors. I interned twice with General Electric Healthcare in Milwaukee and Phoenix, held a summer internship with Goldman, Sachs & Co. in Dallas, and during the school year I worked for McKinsey & Company in the Digital Capability Center in downtown Chicago.”
Armed with her bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, Ruiz-Gonzalez now works at General Electric and is part of its Leadership Rotational Program. She considers herself fortunate to have been at COD.
“To any prospective student looking at College of DuPage, if nothing else, I would advise you take into consideration everything COD has to offer you. Any school can give you an education, but will you get a great education and an amazing experience from the comfort of your own backyard for less than the price of College of DuPage?
“What I earned at College of DuPage goes beyond the material in a few textbooks. The opportunities I took advantage of are really what made me more competitive than some of my peers. I received personal attention in the classroom to excel academically, and COD provided direction in my career so I knew what I wanted to do before transferring. I also built lifelong friends through the sports teams, student clubs and organizations, honor societies, and job opportunities.”