Sonia Zafar

Zafar Named Waubonsee “Fab 40”

Waubonsee Community College has named Sonia Zafar, former student trustee, seen here by Lake Huntoon on Waubonsee’s Sugar Grove Campus, as one of the college’s “Fabulous 40” alumni.
Sugar Grove — A self-described “very shy, timid” high school student, Sonia Zafar developed into a dynamic student leader and academic star as a student at Waubonsee Community College. Waubonsee is proud to honor her as one of the college’s “Fabulous 40” alumni.

As part of the college’s yearlong 40th anniversary celebration, Waubonsee is honoring 40 alumni and students who embody the mission, vision and values of the college. These individuals represent the diversity of Waubonsee’s students and the college district, as well as the diversity of the college’s mission as a comprehensive community college.

When Zafar’s family emigrated from Pakistan in 2001, the transition to life in the U.S. was not initially easy. She struggled to find her way at West Aurora High School. Although she had the opportunity to go to college at a four-year school, she chose Waubonsee because she still didn’t feel prepared to leave home.

“Waubonsee is a great place to start,” she said. “It’s affordable and close to home. I was able to have dual credit with Northern Illinois University (NIU). There’s a smaller classroom environment and a strong sense of community. I could do a lot more in this environment and felt more at home here.”

As a Lucile Gustafson Scholar, Zafar had the opportunity for leadership development. She took advantage of the many student groups and was president of Circles of Understanding and president of Psi Beta. “People who take the first step are the leaders,” she said. “I want to be the person who takes that first step — that leader.”

Zafar also worked at West Suburban Bank in the Montgomery branch.

“My whole day was full — top to bottom,” she said. “I used to get up very early every morning and go nonstop all day. It was all worth it.” Even though her extracurricular activities kept her busy, Zafar excelled in the classroom as well. She took a number of honors courses and graduated with honors.

“Nobody ever said I couldn’t do something. I never knew what I could do before Waubonsee. I loved every single one of my teachers. They each impacted my life positively,” she said. “My future took shape here. I discovered who I was and where my talents were. I gained inspiration and had so many positive role models.”

One of Zafar’s achievements at Waubonsee she treasures most was being the college’s student trustee.

“Being a student trustee was an immense honor, working with people of such knowledge and stature,” she said. “With everything happening at Waubonsee, I really feel like I was able to make my mark.” After earning her associate degree at Waubonsee, Zafar continued her education at NIU where she is pursuing a master’s degree in accounting science and her goal of becoming a certified public accountant. She is continuing her involvement in student activities while at NIU. She is a member of the accounting fraternity Beta Alpha Psi, treasurer of the student international business organization, and a member of Mortar Board, the senior honor society.

“It has been a seamless transition to NIU,” she said. “I really felt prepared. I’m not overwhelmed and am more confident after Waubonsee. I’m glad I had such a strong background from Waubonsee. I’m really able to meet the challenges.”

Although she lives on campus in DeKalb at NIU, she considers Sugar Grove her home. Her younger sister is planning on attending Waubonsee next fall. “I love Northern, but it’s not the same,” she said. “I really miss Waubonsee.”