Two Columbia College–Lake County students inspire others to excel academically

There’s no shortage of bright students at Columbia College, and this couldn’t be truer at the Lake County campus. More than half of our students have at least a 3.0 GPA, and 27 percent have a 3.5 GPA or higher. These numbers are exceptional, especially considering the family and professional commitments students are juggling along with their classes. David Brocksom and Christine Andrade are two students who have not only maintained strong GPA’s, but also have inspiring stories of how and why they excelled academically. Click here to continue reading about these exceptional students.

When Brocksom first started with Columbia College, he had completed only one college course, Beginning Algebra. His goal was to complete his bachelor’s degree before he turned 40 so he immediately began working on a plan to achieve this goal as quickly as possible. “After spending a decade with an S&P 500 company, I found myself looking for a job when they announced my plant was closing and production was moving offshore,” says Brocksom. He describes searching for a new job without a degree as a “humbling experience” he never wants to go through again. Upon learning of CLEP and DANTES exams, he began studying and taking exams. He is now reaching the end of his degree and has successfully tested out of 48 hours of college coursework (almost half his degree). Regarding the exams Brocksom says, “I had some prior knowledge in most of the disciplines that I tested out of, but I still addressed each one with a considerable amount of studying. You can’t read too much.” On top of significantly accelerating his time to completion, Brocksom is also on track to graduate summa cum laude. If you are wondering how Brocksom was able to accomplish so much, he provides the following advice: “Time management was the key. Making time to get all the reading and homework done is essential. When my kids are involved in a lot of activities, or work is busy, I will only take one class at a time. When things are slower, then I double up on classes and hit the exams.”

Andrade always planned to complete her bachelor’s degree, but that dream was put on hold when she got married and began having children. Now a single mother, she made it her mission to finish school as much for herself as for her children. She credits her parents’ support as a key factor in her success noting that, “Without the help and support of my family, my mom specifically, I don’t think I would have been able to accomplish everything that I have done so far.” Since starting with Columbia College, Andrade has added four majors to her degree, despite the fact that she could graduate faster without them. “I realized that if I scheduled my courses correctly I could have multiple majors with very few additional classes.” Currently, she is on track to graduate magna cum laude with majors in Human Resource Management, Management, Accounting, and Financial Services. For anyone considering going back to school she has the following advice, “Signing up for that first class is the hardest step to take, but you will be glad you did. The degree that I will get in August is a fantastic accomplishment but the best part is all of the fantastic people I have met, both students and instructors. The relationships I have gained are priceless!”

Both Brocksom and Andrade will soon graduate with degrees in business administration. As they approach the end of their degrees do they feel it was worth all the hard work? “Absolutely,” says Brocksom. “As someone who interviews prospective employees as part of my job, I can assure you that putting a 3.9 or 4.0 GPA on your resume will get employers talking about you, and help land that first interview.” For Andrade it is more of a personal accomplishment than a professional one. “Maintaining my GPA was more for my children than for my professional advancement. One of the reasons I went back to school was to set that example for my kids, especially my daughter. I have seen such a change in her opinion of school and grades during the time I have been in school. I hope that my hard work will always be in the back of their minds as they pursue their own college careers.”