Student Spotlight: Megan DeAngelis
Associate in General Studies
It wasn’t too many years ago that Megan DeAngelis, now a graduate of College of DuPage and a graduate student at Benedictine University, found herself homeless because her husband had abandoned her and her two boys.
“Although I had a job running a deli at a senior living facility, I didn’t have enough to support my family, and my nearest relatives lived hours away,” she said. “I didn’t have many options.”
She contacted several agencies which eventually sent her to Bridge Communities, a local non-profit organization that assists homeless families in DuPage County. After helping DeAngelis evaluate her needs, Bridge Communities connected her with program partner Families Helping Families in Naperville.
It was there that DeAngelis met Families Helping Families founder Vicky Joseph, who later became one of her mentors and led her on a pathway back to College of DuPage. DeAngelis was skeptical at first of the offers of housing and additional help.
“You know you need help, but are hesitant. However, everyone throughout the process was nonjudgmental and welcomed me with open arms,” she said. “I felt comfortable and was able to trust them. I was able to get some control at a point in my life when I felt I had no control.”
Since one of the goals of FHF is to help its clients become better educated, Joseph and her mentors are in touch with colleges, including College of DuPage. DeAngelis decided that earning her Associate in General Studies degree was her first step. While attending COD, she qualified for a federal work study program.
“One of my biggest supports came from the Service Learning department with Steve Gustis,” she said. “I was a federal work study student who did data entry, converting paper records to electronic. Working with Steve was an eye opener. The members of his department proved to me that the concept of doing community service while in school is invaluable. Our country is failing in teaching us how to be good citizens. Unless you have experienced what it’s like to help somebody, you don’t know the rewards. COD does that.”
In short order, DeAngelis earned her associate’s degree and, together with Joseph, made a plan for the next phase of her education, a bachelor’s degree from Benedictine University. With Joseph’s help in navigating what DeAngelis calls the “intricate web of resources provided by Benedictine and FHF,” she earned her bachelor’s degree in Management in 2008.
DeAngelis is currently a graduate student at Benedictine University. She is working on her master’s degree and completed a master’s certificate in Health Education and Promotion. In addition to her job at Benedictine, she is now working as a culinary mentor at Bridge Communities.
“It is a great opportunity to work with families that have been struggling with eating healthy on a very tight budget,” she said. “I am really looking forward to this experience since I once walked down that same path and feel I have a lot to share.”
While proud of her achievements, she said that FHF did more than just help her.
“They helped my entire family,” she said. “My children went through the program, too. They received tutoring and counseling and were helped in so many ways.”
DeAngelis is giving back by speaking about her experiences to mentors in training and to community philanthropy groups. She also credits institutions like College of DuPage for working with these groups to help residents when they need it most.
“Vicky is a humble angel with the ability to move mountains and never ask for credit,” she said. “At College of DuPage, anything I needed I was able to get. I never once had a class that I did not get something out of.
“You don’t triumph unless you fully engage your experience. And you excel for your kids. One of my proudest moments is that my boys got to see me graduate from college.”
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