Major: Paralegal Studies
Shannon Wells wants to help children.
This drive is reflected in all aspects of her life. She volunteered on the leadership team for UPCI (United Pentacostal Church International) Youth Ministries, in which more than 100 young people went overseas to help in orphanages. They also passed out supplies in Chicago to the homeless during the winter.
Wells also participated Race Judicata, a 5K run benefitting Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation, and has held benefit events for an orphanage called Tupelo Children’s Mission in Mississippi.
“As Mahatma Gandhi says, ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,’” she said. “I was raised driven and I don’t give up.”
For a majority of her adult life, Wells was a stay-at-home mom with her then-husband and three children. But as her children entered school and their independence grew, so did her desire to pursue her career goals.
“I had no legal background when I was hired at a full-service law firm as a legal secretary,” she said. “I loved it so much. Within four years, the company was discussing opening a title company and having me spearhead the endeavor. I decided to make it official and earn my degree in Paralegal Studies, which led me to College of DuPage.”
The experience proved to be even better than Wells expected, as the program helped her realize her potential.
“All of our paralegal teachers had a genuine desire to see us succeed,” she said. “I liked the camaraderie with my fellow classmates. I never doubted I made the right decision.”
During her internship, Wells worked at a firm specializing in family law cases. This led to her interest in guardianship, where she found fulfillment in advocating for the elderly and especially children.
“I would listen to the stories of kids being shuffled around, and I decided I wanted to try and change the cycle within their families. Children don’t choose life, so they shouldn’t have to repeat the cycle.”
Wells maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA during her studies at COD. In earning her Associate in Applied Science degree, she was named one of the College’s Outstanding Graduate finalists.
Showing no signs of slowing down, Wells and her family recently moved back to Florida, where she was originally born. Her next step is getting a bachelor’s degree in either psychology or political science and then applying to law school.
“I have a timeline for myself,” she said. “I don’t want to be in law school in my 40s. When I was just starting to think about school, my bosses were great. They encouraged me to pursue my dreams, so I want to get it done. My greatest challenge is fitting it all in.”
As for COD, Wells cannot say enough about her experience.
“My professors were amazing,” she said. “I worked nearly full time and went to school full time, and I often wonder how I got it all done. Now my goal is to combine two of my passions: the law and making the world a better place for children.”