Rachel Musselwhite

Rachel Musselwhite

Miami, FL
Major: Criminal Justice

At 17, Rachel Musselwhite had no idea what to do with her life.

“I was pretty much a mess. My sister had passed away a couple of months earlier, I had barely graduated from high school, I was living by myself, and I didn’t apply to any colleges, knowing that I had no way to afford the tuition for any of the colleges I wanted to attend," she said. “I had heard good things about College of DuPage, and it offered affordable classes. So I applied on a whim and decided to give it a try.”

Musselwhite took several summer classes online before starting toward her Associate in Art degree. She soon loved the fact that COD was not a four-year school.

“The student body is unbelievably diverse, and it’s fascinating to get to know so many people from such different walks of life. It really gives you a chance to see different perspectives,” she said. “Pride Alliance was the very first club I joined when I started at COD. I was vice president and then president. Pride has always been important to me, because it’s a safe space for a lot of students. It’s a place where students can be themselves.

“The faculty members are also incredibly supportive of students, because they understand that most COD students have lives outside of school. At one point, I was working almost 70 hour weeks between three jobs on top of being a full-time student, and I wouldn't have been able to accomplish that without the help and understanding of my professors.”

After earning her Associate in Arts degree, Musselwhite spent four months volunteering in South America before moving to Miami. She now attends the University of Miami and is a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship, which she credits to her achievements at College of DuPage.

Musselwhite, who is currently the coordinator of programs at an LGBT nonprofit, is majoring in criminology with minors in psychology and urban studies. Her ultimate career goal is to work as a public defender or politician, or with a government intelligence agency.

“I’m an ambitious person – I want to change the world. I want to do that through eliminating corruption and injustice,” she said. “However, my plan after I leave COD is a little off the beaten track. After I graduate, I will be traveling alone to South America – and eventually the rest of the world – to study other cultures and see how governments work in other countries.

“College of DuPage is an amazing school. I would like to tell other students to get involved on campus, take classes that actually interest you, and find faculty members you can connect with. I have to thank three of my professors who have inspired me and helped me plan and achieve my goals: Eric Thompson, John Santiago and David Goldberg. Their classes helped me figure out what I want to accomplish in my career, and they always believed in my ambitions to travel and change the world even when everyone else didn’t.”

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