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Jean and Angelina posing in the campus recreation center

Northeastern Legacy

Polous and Wraas Family

“No matter what happens in a person’s life, no matter what walk of life you come from, you can still come back to school and follow your dreams.” -Jean Polous

Angelina Wraas can be forgiven for cutting in line at the May 2016 Commencement ceremony. It’s not that she wanted to cross the stage sooner—she wanted to cross the stage with her mother, Jean Polous. Indeed, mother and daughter graduated from Northeastern Illinois University at the same time and with the same degree, a Bachelor of Arts in Health and Wellness.

                                                             Jean and Angelina posing in the campus recreation center

The accomplishment was more than an educational feat. For Polous, a survivor of domestic violence, the degree was an affirmation of her potential. “No matter what happens in a person’s life, no matter what walk of life you come from, you can still come back to school and follow your dreams,” Polous said. Wraas and Polous volunteer together to help the elderly, animals, children and the homeless, and hope to one day found a nonprofit organization to help caretakers of people with special needs like Polous’ son, Matthew, who has autism.

“Earning a college degree was on our bucket list and it happened,” said Wraas, who plans to become a preschool teacher. “Who knows? We might even come back to Northeastern for a master’s degree.”

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