North Central News

Dust family graduates three family members at Commencement

Jun 22, 2017

Jennifer Dust ’16/M ’17 enjoyed her undergraduate experience at North Central College so much that she encouraged her two younger siblings, Natalie and Nathaniel, to attend, too.

All three were transfer students to North Central and graduated in June. Jennifer earned an M.S. in computer science, Natalie a B.A. in anthropology, and Nathaniel, the youngest, a B.S. with honors in economics and finance. Three years apart, they commuted to campus from their home in Downers Grove, Ill.

“I think my sister and brother are the coolest people around, but don’t tell them that,” Jennifer said. “Each of us is so diverse; you just have to look at our degrees to see that.” She loves to code. Natalie enjoys working on archaeological digs. Nathaniel thrives when studying intergalactic economics, the study of economic systems between human colonies.

“Despite our differences, we like to hang out together. We’ll work on papers and study at home and on campus and support each other’s interests. I’m really grateful we all went to North Central. It happened to be the perfect fit for all of us.”

As an undergraduate, Jennifer (photo, center) majored in interactive media studies and computer science, which led her to her master’s work in computer science. To support her graduate studies, she earned a graduate assistant position in the Office of Marketing and Communications helping program and populate the College’s webpages for its new website and rollout in 2016. Her contributions were noticed. She landed a full-time position at North Central as web applications programmer in the Information Technology Services (ITS) department and plans to pursue yet another degree, an M.B.A.

Immediately after graduation, Natalie ’17 moved to Madison, Wis., and plans to attend a master’s program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Later this summer, Nathaniel ’17 begins a full assistantship in the Ph.D. program in economics at Northern Illinois University and looks forward to a career as a college professor or at the Federal Reserve.

Their parents, Ken and Belinda, and Jennifer’s husband RT have been proud cheerleaders. “Starting as kids, my mom enrolled us in academic camps, computer classes and music programs. They went out and found opportunities for us, making us eager to learn,” said Jennifer.

Ken has a college degree and works as an engineer at Caterpillar. Belinda built her own cosmetology business, A Woman’s Place, after attending Lincoln College. Although Belinda recently learned she had a recurrence of cancer, she attended her children’s Commencement and, like her daughter Jennifer, has recruited the student of a family friend to attend North Central College next year.

[Photo, below: Belinda, Nathaniel, Jennifer, Natalie, Ken Dust]