Your Story Starts Here – One day, not long ago, I was driving home from class, contemplating what to write for this bio, and the bus I was following happened to have a College of DuPage advertisement with the Your Story Starts Here tag line. It may sound incredulous, but it’s true and suitably fateful in sharing my pathway. For those of you I haven’t met, I’m Penny Latta and my COD story began in 2010 on a bit of a whim. My husband and I were renovating our home and in the midst of my stint as a stay-at-home mom, I decided to try out an interior design course. Like many of you, I began with INTER 1110, known at the time as “the drafting class”. Also, like many of you, not only did I wonder how I’d lived so many years without the services of a T-square – OK, maybe that’s just me – I was quickly hooked on interior design, and firmly sold on what COD’s program had to offer.
As a student, I followed what Jane sympathetically referred to as the “turtle track” while raising my then elementary-school-aged kids. With the encouragement of a former Professional Practice and Ethics (PP&E) instructor and mentor, Cynthia Milota, I started William Bean Interiors, a residential, and now light commercial practice, in 2013. I also credit PP&E in reaffirming an even longer-term, but somewhat dormant goal – to teach at the college level. COD shaped my story not only in leading me to interior design, but in bringing my past experience and teaching education to COD.
I began teaching “the drafting class” at COD in 2015, and from the start, collaborated with colleagues to evaluate and transform the introductory course to more successfully meet the building blocks for future success in our Interior Design program and the industry. I lean upon my B.A. in Journalism to mold our students into effective design communicators, and my M.A. in Teaching to reach a variety of students and create authentic learning experiences. I look forward to challenging myself by helping to develop future courses that best meet the needs of our students. I’ve learned a lot about myself, since “my COD story” began – most significantly, what I value: life-long learning, variety, work-life balance, and authenticity. COD has brought so much of my past experience full-circle and I am fortunate to nurture so many aspects of myself, while being a part of a department that is dedicated to fostering the future of interior design and continuing to build a program that earnestly improves each year.
While it may sound trite, wherever you are in your COD story, embrace it. Expect that you will continue to work hard. If interior design is a passion, the time spent, whether measured by semesters, or in hours engulfed by a software program, is going to fly by. Remember to take breaks – they’re essential to your creativity, ultimate efficiency, and physical well-being! Get involved and make connections with industry professionals, play your “I’m a design student” card, lean on your fellow students, and pretty please, never stop learning!
See you around the 3rd floor,