Student Spotlight: Natasha Gonzalez
Major: Associate in Arts
Natasha Gonzalez’s third grade teacher, Mrs. Cella, helped spark her interest in environmental studies.
“She had a compost bin in our classroom and would incorporate environmental science into our academics. My interest only grew from there,” she said. “The older I became, the more I learned about environmental issues, including climate change, global warming and the impact humans have on our environment. For any field of study I thought about pursuing before, I was always trying to incorporate environmental studies – until I decided that I wanted environmental studies to be my main focus.”
But Gonzalez didn’t have the best academic experience in high school. She didn’t feel as encouraged as other students and wasn’t motivated to push herself. When she discovered the many opportunities available at College of DuPage, she was ready to enroll.
“It was my second chance after high school,” she said. “I was involved and felt motivated to succeed. I landed a student worker job, joined clubs, organized my studies and immediately felt as though I belonged. I knew COD was where my life and future was going to bloom.”
Gonzalez enjoyed the interaction with professors, who helped her to succeed. Several became mentors, providing advice and insight that she used to select a transfer institution. She also enjoyed the many friends she made through involvement in clubs and organizations. This included the Environment Club, for which she was an officer her first year and president her second.
Because of her work with the Environment Club, she received the Benjamin P. Hyink Student Leader of the Year Award.
“The Environmental Club changed my life and helped me shape who I am as a student and as a person,” she said. “I now know I am able to be a leader for what I am most passionate about. We encouraged others to be conscious of environmental issues and how we as humans can help and lower our environmental impact. We had weekly club meetings on Wednesdays and volunteered every Saturday we could. The officers, members and advisors in the club made my experience most memorable. We worked as a team to create a solid foundation for our club that I hope will carry on throughout the years that will make COD, the students and the community more environmentally conscious.”
Gonzalez plans to major in Environmental Studies and minor in sustainability, with a concentration in public policy, at George Washington University. Her ultimate education goals are to pursue environmental law and work in environmental policy through a government agency.
She is a huge advocate for College of DuPage, especially the Honors Program, and advises students to make the most of their experiences.
“It will be the best decision you make, not only financially but because it will open up so many doors,” she said. “Don’t let the stigma surrounding a community college prevent you from making the decision to pursue COD. The whole ‘go to COD for two years then transfer’ thing worked for me, and it will definitely work out for you.
“Overall, College of DuPage is full of endless possibilities and resources available to those who seek them.”
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