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Student of Distinction: Jennifer DeCorte

Student of DistinctionCleveland State celebrates graduating students who have overcome obstacles, made significant achievements, or are fulfilling CSU’s mission in or outside the classroom.

Today, we celebrate Jennifer DeCorte.

DeCorte, a full-time employee of CSU and student, has been waiting for this moment to finally come true for close to 25 years. Since graduating from high school in 1999, completing her undergraduate degree has been a work in progress. DeCorte, a Psychology major, will now graduate with honors at commencement and has received acceptance into CSU’s Adult, Professional, and Higher Education Master’s program, which begins in the fall. Her number one motivation in life? Her son, who she hopes will one day aspire to follow in her footsteps.

CSU: Have you had any significant Internships/Co-ops/Careers while at CSU?

JD: As a full-time employee at CSU's bursar's office, I also volunteer on campus whenever possible for events like career fairs and other opportunities. Helping other students on campus also brings me tremendous joy since I often find that by sharing my struggles and experiences with my classmates, I can assist those who are going through similar struggles that I may have experienced on this journey. I have also signed up to be a mentor in the “Say Yes” program to give back to our community at CSU.

CSU: How would you describe the connections you have made with the faculty and staff at CSU?

JD: The CSU staff and faculty are like family to me personally. We always consider what's best for the students. Working at CSU and soon to be an alum, I feel proud to be a Viking. Dr. Bloomberg emphasized "Be Kind" above all else in one of the first speeches I ever saw her deliver. That resonated with me. Even though I am a non-traditional student, I receive the same treatment in and out of the classroom. Although I was so anxious throughout one semester, I was treated like a regular student despite being 43 years old despite my classmates being in their late teens and early 20s, and my professor was 26. Learning and developing as a classroom and a community was the shared goal. It is the foundation of CSU.

CSU: How has Cleveland State inspired you for your future?

JD: My inspiration to never give up comes from Cleveland State. I will always remember my first interaction with Adam Sikula, who oversaw setting up and speaking with students interested in the Lorain and CSU partnership while I was still a student at LCCC. I was working full-time then, so I was putting in as much time as possible on my coursework. When it came time to decide, I felt CSU was the right place for me after speaking with Adam. I explained I was non-traditional, and I had been back and forth to college a few times, so we did a transcript audit, and I said, 'Adam, I am a numbers person; just give it to me straight, how many classes do I need to graduate?’. Adam did just that. He gave me the number I needed. I didn’t have time to think about it, all I knew was that the time was now.? I have always done some banking or working with numbers, so I needed to work with numbers and have a countdown, and the countdown I had now was my classes. He introduced me to who would later become the best advisor I could ever ask for as an adult learner in Rochelle Lappis, who also guided me to success. Adam and Rochelle inspire me to hopefully be able to give back to someone at Cleveland State and guide them as they guided me not that long ago.

CSU: How do you think you have fulfilled the CSU mission (empowering others, creating knowledge, engaging our community and shaping our world)?

JD: By telling my story, showing my vulnerability, and being there for others whenever I can, I've succeeded in achieving the goals of CSU. In addition to working at CSU, I am incredibly fortunate to have graduated from CSU and been taught and guided by some of the top instructors in the country. Being able to give back to our communities and CSU is my goal. In the future, I want to use my talents at CSU for professional development, coaching, and advising. I want to be wherever the student needs me to be.

I also want to thank my supervisors and the CSU bursar's office team. One thing I tell everyone who I share my story with is that you should always keep going and that it's always possible to start over. How long it takes you is irrelevant as long as you finish, which is precisely what I am doing.?

Congratulations, Jennifer!