College of DuPage Celebrates Tradition of Excellence at 52nd Commencement

By: Angela Mennecke

52nd Annual Commencement

College of DuPage Interim President Dr. Brian Caputo addressed approximately 700 graduates at the College’s 52nd Commencement Ceremony and spoke not only as the school’s leader but also as a proud father, as his daughter, Kadie, graduated with her Associate in Arts degree.

“My wife, Karen, and I think of College of DuPage as part of our family,” he said. “Our two sons, Brian Jr. and Gregory, also attended COD. We refer to this as ‘our college.’ I know that all of you feel the same way. I am sure that each of you has at least one faculty or staff member whom you consider to be a mentor— someone who stayed late to help you through an assignment, discussed an important topic, or counseled you on a career or transfer option. I hope that you consider College of DuPage to be your school— the place that made you feel welcome, the place where you felt empowered to pursue your dreams.”

View photos from Commencement. 

Caputo encouraged graduates to remember that no matter where their journey takes them, they will always have the support of their College family.  

“Seek to be the best at what you do, whether it is working in an operating room or on a computer network, whether it is an endeavor down the street or halfway across the world,” he said. “Just know that your family at College of DuPage fully supports you.”

Outstanding graduates Mark Littlefield Jr. (Bartlett) and Rima Househ (Carol Stream) were both recognized for their academic excellence and achievement inside and outside the classroom.

Like Caputo, Househ considers attending COD a family tradition, as her great uncles, uncle and aunt, mother and older sister are all alumni. Earning an Associate in Arts degree, she credited COD as an institution of inclusion.

“I am proud to stand here tonight amongst a student body and faculty that enrich such a beautiful culture and community within this school,” she said. “My mom would always say, even if your dad’s the richest man in the world, you will still study at COD. I didn’t understand what she meant by that until I started. Thank you, COD staff and students, for fostering an inclusive environment. Thank you for opening your arms to diverse people, ideas and opinions.”

Littlefield, who earned an Associate in Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity and Defense, reflected on his turbulent past and credited COD for helping him discover his footing.

“I attended three different college institutions and didn’t feel like I had a career path,” he said. “But then I found College of DuPage and all of you. From the first day at College of DuPage, I felt better. I found a place that allowed me to take opportunities and challenges that I may not have taken otherwise.”

Frank Napolitano, Chairman of the College’s Board of Trustees, reminisced on his own student experience at the College and encouraged students to use their skills and credentials to create even more opportunities.          

“As they were for me, the opportunities that exist at College of DuPage are just the start for you,” Chairman Napolitano said. “I challenge you now to take the knowledge and experiences you acquired here and build upon them during the next phase of your lives.”

Chairman Napolitano also awarded COD Board of Trustees Secretary Dan Markwell his diploma after earning an associate degree in computer science.

College of DuPage is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Serving approximately 25,000 students each term, College of DuPage is the largest public community college in the state of Illinois. The College grants seven associate degrees and offers more than 170 career and technical certificates in over 50 areas of study. 

Caption: Interim College of DuPage President Dr. Brian Caputo presents his daughter, Kadie, with her diploma. (Photo by Press Photography Network/Special to College of DuPage)