Meet Za’Tozia Duffie, College of Lake County, IL



“My experiences at College of Lake County have completely discredited each and every assumption and stereotype I had about community colleges,” said recent graduate Za’Tozia Duffie. She grew up in the Lake County, IL, community, attending the college’s annual Salute to Gospel concerts for as long as she can remember.

“Back then, I was not familiar with what CLC was or even college in general, but I knew it possessed something that I often anticipated and looked forward to.”

When the time arrived for Za’Tozia to graduate from high school, she was mentored by TRiO program director Dr. Sharon Sanders-Funnye and eventually enrolled at CLC.

“Thanks to Dr. Sanders-Funnye, I began to actually see myself as a capable college student,” said Za’Tozia. “She gave me courage.”

Everything fell into place
From that moment on, everything else fell into place. Za’Tozia connected with other faculty members who introduced her to the many opportunities and resources at the college. She became a CLC Scholar and engaged with other clubs and activities on campus. CLC’s approachability became a home and catalyst for her own personal success.

Za’Tozia’s career at CLC was launched at new student orientation where her confidence was further boosted by welcoming and kind fellow student leaders.

“These students shared their experiences on campus, urging us to take advantage of certain opportunities while also warning us to not make some of the mistakes they did,” she said. “I appreciated how the new student orientation did not overwhelm me in any way.”

As an active student on campus, Za'Tozia attended workshops about time and stress management and gained a mentor who helped her become a successful college student. Besides learning in the classroom, she also became a student worker in the Public Relations and Marketing department at the college. As an aspiring journalist, Za’Tozia was surrounded by career role models in this position and it allowed her to grow outside the classroom.

“I was so petrified to begin working because it was my first job, ever,” she said. “I did not have the slightest clue about anything, yet my supervisor made me feel like a superstar. She gave me the wings to fly but was still there for guidance, whenever I was unsure of anything. Now I have what it takes to be successful in a work environment.”

Taking the next leap
When it came time for Za’Tozia to take her next leap to pursue her bachelor’s degree, she looked locally to Lake Forest College. Because of her star-student success while a CLC Scholar, Za’Tozia was awarded a full-ride scholarship to Lake Forest College–only one scholarship is given every year.

“I’m so grateful to Lake Forest College for making me feel welcomed and also to each and every person at CLC, who always pushed me and cheered me on.” - Za'Tozia Duffie

As a member of Achieving the Dream, College of Lake County has learned the importance of fundamentals in student success work, like mapping the student journey as an organizing tool. The path that students, like Za’Tozia, take to link, launch, learn and leap follows all the steps from start to finish in CLC’s Lancer Success Framework, which identifies key phases of student progress. The college will leverage this framework in its Equity in Student Access and Success Plan to continually improve and ensure every student has what they need each step of their educational journey.

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