Student Spotlight: Shelley Jacobs
Shelley Jacobs knew College of DuPage would provide her with the building blocks she needed for the future.
What she also discovered was a home.
“The only difference between COD and my actual home was that I didn’t sleep at COD,” she said. “I started off my first quarter with Acting 1. Scott Mullins was my teacher and my introduction into the Theater department. He had such a laid back, friendly vibe that it allowed for experimentation and complete openness in the classroom. In theater classes and plays, your classmates or castmates become your family. The first day of my first acting class I met someone who was to become one of my all-time closest friends. I even officiated her wedding.
“The girls that I call my closest friends are people I met during the summer of 2002 when we all participated in the student theater production of ‘Wind in the Willows.’ To this day, we consider ourselves sisters and if it wasn’t for COD and Connie (Canaday Howard) casting us all in that show, we wouldn’t have met and become the group that we are today. COD is so important to who I am as a person that I can’t imagine my life without it.”
College of DuPage also provided Jacobs with a chance to prove herself academically.
“I didn’t have the maturity or the performance in high school that I needed to go immediately away to a four-year college,” she said. “COD afforded me a sort of second chance at working toward a bachelor’s degree. It was also an opportunity for me to explore what my interests were and where I wanted my life to go. I took religion, sociology, play directing, pottery, photography, yoga, and really learned what I was passionate about. COD was my coming-of-age and my opportunity to show myself what I was capable of.”
Jacobs transferred to DePaul University and finished her bachelor's degree in English. Since then, she has worked as a program coordinator at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
But Jacobs treasures her time spent at College of DuPage. She still keeps up with the faculty, staff, and students she met during her time at COD and is grateful for those relationships.
“They shaped my life and still are like a family to which I will always belong. I have a strong sense of loyalty to all of them because of what we experienced together in the theater department,” she said. “Theater was vital to my education at COD and exposed me to art in a way that I couldn’t access through other avenues. It helped mold the way I think critically about the world and offered me unique perspectives on my environment and culture, opening the door for me to learn the stories of other people’s lives. It taught me acceptance and understanding of others as well as of who I was and who I continue to be.
“COD gave me so much more than I could ever give back to it. I found my niche in working as a student aide for Connie Canaday Howard for two years and taking every theater class I could and getting involved in every production I could. It was truly a unique experience – one that not many people have. I felt safe when I was in that department, like nothing bad could happen because I was always surrounded by people I loved and people who loved me and I really can’t imagine experiencing that anywhere else.
“I was so young and, let’s face it, immature, but my experience in the Theater department gave me my identity – it helped form the essence of who I am, and I carry that with me in everything I do. Connie Canaday Howard is one of the three most influential teachers that I’ve ever had. She has never ceased to amaze me with her talent. What I love about her is that even though I do put her on a pedestal, she is wholly human and has always had a way of making me feel loved and like I am awesome even though SHE is the awesome one! I just adore her and am proud to call her my mentor, my teacher, my role model and my friend.”
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