Student Stories: Karen Rutt

Karen Rutt

Associate in Science

Karen Rutt knows the impact of College of DuPage, having turned to the school three times.

“I attended COD my senior year of high school in 1995 in order to graduate on time,” she said. “I never really cared for school when I was younger. Since I’ve matured, that’s changed. I’ve realized that an education is the door to a future.”

After her high school graduation, Rutt enrolled at COD “because it was close and inexpensive.”

“I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my future. I was taking general education classes, hoping for that ‘aha’ moment.”

It never came. And with no clear goal in mind, she struggled and eventually quit. Fifteen years later, with a child on the way and meaningful work more imperative than ever, Rutt signed up for a five-hour career assessment class at COD. It pointed her to occupational therapy.

So she re-enrolled at College of DuPage, which had undergone a remarkable change since she had last been a student.

“Between the ‘old’ COD and ‘new’ COD, it’s like two different colleges,” she said. “The instructors were always top notch, but now there’s the restaurant, technology building, health and science center, homeland security, and immaculately landscaped grounds. These educational buildings represent real-life working situations.”

At COD, Rutt joined Phi Theta Kappa and volunteered for such events as food drives and Rockin’ for the Troops. Having finished her Associate in Science degree and earning high honors, she transferred to Elmhurst College and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. While at Elmhurst, she was enrolled in the honors program, made the Dean’s List and was inducted into the Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honor Society.

Rutt is now in the Master of Occupational Therapy program at North Central College. She took a year off when she had a baby but is back pursuing her studies. 

She is grateful to the taxpayers for making College of DuPage affordable and high quality, which provided her with a strong start to her higher ed career.

“With your gift, you built a stable and well-crafted foundation for thousands upon thousands of students,” she said. “You gave students faith that you believe in us. Your trust created a better future for each student while strengthening the community as a whole. Benjamin Franklin said, ‘An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.’ I believe this is true for each individual’s life and society as a whole. And for that, I humbly thank you.

“I had such a great experience at COD. The staff, students, classes – everything was perfect. Without all of their support and caring, I would definitely not be where I am today. I still hold COD dear to my heart!”

More about the Associate in Science degree