Perseverance, Commitment Lead to Success for Oakton's Mia Trais

Mia Trais


(May 22, 2020) Not everyone’s path to college success follows a straight line, but sometimes the detours lead to where you were supposed to be all along.

Like many others her age, when Mia Trais graduated from Niles North High School in 2012, she enrolled directly at Oakton and began taking a full load of classes that fall. It was her first attempt at college.

“I hadn’t been a very good high school student,” she admits. “Then, when I got to Oakton, I had no idea what I wanted out of college. I think I failed every class.” She found herself on academic probation and eventually dropped out to find a job.

“Working,” she explained, “was good for my personal growth.” With work you must make a commitment to keep the paychecks coming. You must go every day, you must be on time, and you must do your best to serve your customers.

Through work, Trais gained the success that she hadn’t found in school. She was promoted to manager, she learned about teamwork and leadership and about her own potential. After seven years and a few failed attempts, she decided to give college another try and this time, with her full commitment.

“It was a complete 180 and a totally different experience,” she says.

Trais discovered the importance of putting her whole self into college. She became an honor student and involved in college life as the co-president of the UNICEF Club.

Trais’ honors professor, Megan Klein, encouraged her to submit her honors project for a student research grant from the Honors Council of the Illinois Region (HCIR). Trais won a cash grant to produce copies of an illustrated paperback children’s book that she will self-publish. The work is designed for children with an incarcerated parent. Her plan is to paint illustrations on canvases to illustrate the book. The design will encourage a child to read and talk about the loss of their parent’s presence in their life.

The project grows out of Trais' interest in psychology which she plans to pursue as her major at Loyola University of Chicago. She has been accepted and awarded a generous transfer scholarship.