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© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Celebrates Past Year's Accomplishments

Read about Waubonsee's institutional and individual accomplishments during the 2013-14 fiscal year in this annual memo from President Dr. Christine Sobek. 

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Honors Biology as Student Success: Featured Program

Biology, or the study of life, may date back centuries, but that doesn’t keep the Biology Department at Waubonsee Community College from being a model of innovation. For their commitment to working together, implementing technology in the classroom and collaborating with community partners, Waubonsee is pleased to recognize the faculty and staff of the Biology Department as this month’s Student Success: Featured Program.

The department’s full-time faculty and adjunct faculty work together as a team, a commitment that benefits students greatly. To that end, the department created a manual for adjunct faculty that outlines exams, labs and procedures. Adjunct instructors are given professional development on the use of cadavers once per semester, and a shadowing program allows instructors to observe a full-time faculty member in the classroom. Faculty and instructors work together to create common assessments such as embedded exam questions.

This collaborative spirit for the good of students has not gone unnoticed across campus and among colleagues in the field.

“This department has a cohesiveness that others admire and emulate,” said Mary Edith Butler, Waubonsee Dean for Mathematics and Sciences. “The full-time faculty work constantly with the adjuncts to ensure a high level of consistent, quality instruction. This biology faculty makes student success the priority in everything they do.”

The department dates back to the very beginning of Waubonsee Community College: Biology classes were among the first offered when Waubonsee opened in 1967. That year, General Botany and Introduction to Biology were offered, and by the following year, an associate degree in biology was offered with classes in topics like botany, plant taxonomy, zoology, biology and human physiology. Today, the department offers about 135 course sections each semester.

When it comes to implementing technology meaningfully in the classroom, the Biology Department is often at the forefront: They were one of the first disciplines at Waubonsee to implement a “flipped classroom” format, which is where instruction is given before the class meets via online lectures and material, and actual class time is devoted to experiments and hands-on learning. Students use tablets, laptops and apps for research and virtual interactive lessons.

The Biology Department has a strong presence in the community, thanks to a variety of efforts to engage partners and colleagues and to foster a spirit of curiosity about science. To that end, the department offers tours and demonstrations of cadaver labs to area high school students, gives public presentations about topics of interest via the Asset Earth series, presents in high school classrooms and participates in college readiness initiatives.

Above all, the department is celebrated for their commitment to student success. Biology faculty members mentor and coach Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) students through activities including the Skyway STEM poster contest, Women in STEM workshops, and in weekly meetings. The department was the first to offer students a chance for supplemental instruction, and is known for offering field trips and other hands-on experiences. 

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Board Appoints Jimmie Delgado to Finish Pilmer Term

The Waubonsee Community College Board of Trustees has appointed Jimmie Delgado to replace former trustee James Pilmer, who recently resigned upon accepting a new position as the executive director of the Fox Valley Park District. Delgado will finish the rest of Pilmer’s term, which ends in 2017.

Delgado is currently the controller at Fox Metro Water Reclamation District in Oswego, and has more than 12 years of experience as an accountant. He is an MBA candidate at Aurora University with an expected graduation in May 2016.

Delgado’s ties to Waubonsee began as an undergraduate. He graduated from Oswego High School and enrolled at Waubonsee after receiving a Lucile Gustafson Scholarship. In addition to volunteer service as part of the Gustafson Scholarship program, Delgado served as a peer tutor, Student Senate secretary and as Student Trustee during the 2002-2003 academic year. He graduated from Waubonsee in 2003 and was named one of the college’s “Fab 40” in 2006.

After graduating from Waubonsee, Delgado enrolled at Aurora University(AU), where he was awarded the Dunham Scholarship and continued his community service activities through this scholarship program. He was president of Delta Mu Delta Business Honor Society at AU and a founding member of the university’s chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society. He also received AU’s Senior Award, which is especially noteworthy because the award is given to the student who made the greatest contribution to his or her class over their four years. Delgado only attended AU for two years.

Delgado is an active community volunteer, including service with the Joseph Corporation, Aurora Noon Lions, Boy Scouts, Salvation Army, United Way and Angel Tree. He is a director of the Oswego Kiwanis, where he is a founding member. He lives in Oswego with his wife Tara, who is also a Waubonsee graduate, and their three children.

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Board Honors James Pilmer For His Service and Dedication

The Waubonsee Community College Board of Trustees honored long-serving board member James Pilmer during their board meeting on Nov. 18 where they also approved his resignation from the board. Pilmer has served as an elected member of the board for 22 years, serving as vice chair for 11 years and as a member of the policy committee throughout his tenure. During the meeting, board members passed a resolution recognizing him for his decades of service.

The resolution commending Pilmer for his service states that he “has given an extraordinary amount of volunteer time, expertise and service to Waubonsee Community College,” and that Pilmer “is known for his leadership and dedication in bringing the Board of Trustees his expertise and knowledge of the Waubonsee community, which has greatly aided Waubonsee’s partnerships and collaboration.”

In a letter written last month to the board and Waubonsee President Dr. Christine Sobek, Pilmer cited his recent appointment as Executive Director of the Fox Valley Park District as reason for his resignation. He originally came to Waubonsee as a student athlete, graduated and then volunteered for the Alumni Association. His leadership at Waubonsee has spanned 33 years. In addition to his service on the board, he also served seven years as a member of the Waubonsee Foundation Board of Directors, including one year as vice president and three years as president. 

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Art and Graphic Design Programs Receive Accreditation

Waubonsee Community College recently became the second community college in Illinois to receive accreditation for their Art and Graphic Design programs from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

The application process included a self-study, site visits and peer reviews. The four-year project benefited from collaboration among faculty and staff in the Art and Graphic Design departments, and other areas of the college.

“Receiving this accreditation has reinforced the quality and rigor of our programs as well as the quality of instruction provided by our full and part time faculty,” said Cindy Sparr, Waubonsee Dean for Communications, Humanities and Fine Arts. Sparr noted that NASAD officials were impressed with Waubonsee’s facilities, particularly the state-of-the-art art ceramics studio.

“The accreditation will benefit students as they transfer to four-year institutions, affirming that our students are obtaining the appropriate skills to be successful in their programs,” she said. “Being advocates for continuous improvement, this accreditation process was an excellent opportunity to reflect on our practices, curriculum and facilities.”

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Student’s Research Presented at STEM Conference

Waubonsee Community College student Rudolf Vierecki’s research project was selected to be presented at the Louis Stokes Midwest Center of Excellence STEM Conference in Indianapolis last month. The selection marked a major recognition of a community college science project.

The title of the project is “Analysis of Anions in Water Sources Using Ion Chromatography,” and the purpose of the experiment was to detect levels of contaminants in two lakes and two drinking water sources using anion chromatography and microwave plasma atomic emission spectroscopy.

Dr. Sheela Vemu, Instructor of Biology, was the mentoring instructor working with Vierecki on the project.

“His poster was selected for the presentation, while most of the other presentations were from four-year undergraduate institutions,” she said. “It is a great honor for a Waubonsee student to be exposed to real world science through a hands-on research experience. Those interventions in a community college setting allows students to engage in STEM fields while improving retention and overall success.”

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Dean for Students Honored at National Conference

Waubonsee Community College Dean for Students Dr. Scott Peska was honored as Outstanding Community College Professional at the National Association for Student Personnel and Administrators IV East Regional Conference this month.

Peska serves on the Community College Division for the region and presented two educational sessions.

Peska came to Waubonsee in 2012, after working at Northern Illinois University (NIU) since 2004. Peska earned his doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Illinois. He also holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication from Illinois State University, as well as an associate degree from Highland Community College.

Dr. Melinda James, Waubonsee Vice President for Student Development, nominated Peska for the award. She also attended the conference, along with Mary Tosch, Waubonsee Student Life Manager, and Meg Junk, Waubonsee Student Life Specialist.

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Marketing and Communications Receives Awards

Waubonsee Community College’s Marketing and Communications team recently received recognition for their work.

In the MarCom Awards, the college received a Platinum award for the “Pure Magic” brochure for the Community Education department, a Gold award for the 2014 Annual Report to the Community and an honorable mention for photography within that publication. The team also received an honorable mention for the Waubonsee Vision 2050 Futures Summit event.

The MarCom Awards are one of the premier international creative competitions for individuals and companies involved in creating print, visual, audio and Web materials and programs.

Also, the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR)- made up of marketing and communications professionals from two-year colleges - recognized the team’s work in several categories. The department placed in the top three in six categories in the District 3 award competition, receiving a Gold Award for the Learning First newsletter and the “Nature Quest” photo; Silver awards for a Waubonsee Foundation folder, “Blood Moon” photo and Field House Grand Opening event. A Bronze award was received for the Summer 2015 Credit Schedule.

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Faculty Honored at State Conference

Waubonsee Community College faculty were honored during fall sessions of the Illinois Community College Faculty Association (ICCFA) Conference in Springfield.

Allison Beltramini, associate professor of Communications, was awarded the 2015 Dr. Joseph Cipfl Workshop Grant. The ICCFA awards up to four $2,500 grants for faculty workshops or research projects for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Tom Pulver, retired assistant professor of Mathematics, received the Retiring Instructor Award, which bestows a life-time membership to the ICCFA, and is awarded to someone who is retiring from the community college system who has served on the executive committee of the ICCFA and made outstanding contributions to the organization.

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Biology Faculty Selected for Pilot Program

Waubonsee Community College Biology faculty members were selected as members of the pilot cohort of the B2 Scholars Program, a two-year professional development experience for community college life sciences faculty. Tracy Dosch, Associate Professor of Biology, and Dr. Sheela Vemu, Instructor of Biology, were both selected.

The B2 Scholars Program is sponsored by the National Association of Biology Teachers and BioQuest Curriculum Consortium, and is funded in part by the National Science Foundation.

Dan Ward, Waubonsee Professor of Biology, served on a team that developed the B2 Scholars Program and will serve as mentor to the pilot cohort.

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Driver Safety Program Recognized

Waubonsee Community College’s Driver Safety Program – part of the college’s department of Workforce Development - was recently recognized during an awards banquet at the National Safety Council Congress and Expo in Atlanta, Ga.

The awards were presented to Dennis Schmidt, Driver Safety Manager, and included a Remarkable Results award in the Alive at 25 category, and two Trendsetter awards in the Defensive Driving Courses (DDC).

“These awards demonstrate the continuing commitment by the Driver Safety Program at Waubonsee and our court partners, the 16th and 23rd Judicial Circuits, to reinforce defensive driving principles with drivers in Kane, Kendall and DeKalb Counties and focus on strategies to prevent traffic citations and collision-related injuries and fatalities,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt also participated in a meeting of the National Safety Council Defensive Driving Courses International Advisory Committee, which works with the National Safety Council in developing and revising DDC courses. 

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee, Carpenters Union Celebrate Partnership

Waubonsee Community College and the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Apprentice and Training Program celebrated National Apprenticeship Week by recognizing a new degree program designed to help carpentry apprentices translate their education and work experience into a college degree.

Waubonsee Board of Trustees approved the new Construction Technology Professional Associate in Applied Science Degree program in March. It is administered in partnership with the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, and allows those completing the council’s four-year registered apprenticeship program to earn 45 college credits through the credit for prior learning process based on their apprenticeship classroom training and on-the-job learning. When combined with 15 semester hours of traditional college course work in communications, the humanities, mathematics, physical science and social and behavioral science, participants in this program are eligible to earn an Associate in Applied Science Degree through Waubonsee.

The Carpenter Apprenticeship Open House – held this month in Elk Grove Village – featured a presentation about the Registered Apprenticeship Program and a facility tour.

The Construction Technology Professional program began accepting students for this semester. It follows Waubonsee’s commitment in 2014 to become a member of the Registered Apprenticeship-College Consortium (RACC), a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Education. RACC member institutions have agreed to partner with others in a network of colleges and registered apprenticeship programs operated by unions and others to provide greater college-to-career opportunities and create an accelerated pathway for those enrolled in registered apprenticeship programs to earn associate or bachelor’s degrees.

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Veteran Continues to Serve

During the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Jorge Arciniega was watching the news unfold with his classmates when the teacher – a veteran – suddenly shut off the television and asked the students if any of them planned to enlist. Not yet understanding that the country was headed to war, the class fell silent. In that moment, Arciniega was overcome with a desire to be different. He raised his hand.

The Waubonsee Community College student has been raising his hand ever since. He joined the military at age 17 and went on to serve from 2002 until 2014. Now a married father with his second child on the way, Arciniega serves as the president of Waubonsee’s Veterans Club and said the group provides an outlet for his desire to continue serving in any way he can.

He will stand alongside his fellow Waubonsee student veterans during a ceremony at 11 a.m. on Wednesday at the Academic Professional Center, Room 110, at the Sugar Grove Campus, Route 47 and Waubonsee Drive. The observance will include remarks from a keynote speaker and Waubonsee faculty, staff and students, as well as participation from the American Legion Post 1271 of Sugar Grove and members of the Waubonsee Community College Veterans Club.

Waubonsee serves an average of 400 veterans per semester. Recognizing that each veteran’s needs are unique, the college has a Veterans Services office that provides individualized assistance to help veterans navigate federal and state education benefits, academic planning, applying college credit for military experience and finding appropriate support services. Such efforts have earned Waubonsee recognition as a “Military Friendly School” by “G.I. Jobs” magazine.

But for many of those veterans, the Veterans Club feels like a familiar place where they can fulfill an ongoing desire to serve their communities.

“Being at Waubonsee is part of my desire to do something bigger with my life,” Arciniega said as he outlined his dreams of pursuing a career in marketing and eventually going on to earn his law degree and become a federal court judge. It is more important to him than ever that he tries to reach those goals: Last year, his father died, prompting him to return to Illinois to help his mother, who lives in Yorkville.

“My dad used to say he thought I’d be an attorney,” Arciniega said. “I want to make sure I am doing all I can to make him proud.” To reach those dreams, his days are full: Arciniega is involved in 10 student groups at Waubonsee, takes classes and tries to spend as much time as he can with his wife and two-year-old daughter.

“I am young and full of ideas and energy,” he said. “But I also don’t want to be 80 and looking back on my life and regretting not trying.”

It wasn’t always this way for Arciniega: He moved to Cicero from Los Angeles in seventh grade. For him, the best way to soothe the social challenges of being the new kid was to be the class clown. His popularity improved, but his grades and focus suffered. That’s why it came as a such a surprise to him how much his life changed during that moment on 9/11 when he raised his hand.

“My wife is my best friend and biggest supporter,” he said. “Whenever I doubt myself she always reminds of that moment when I raised my hand to be different. Every decision in my life since then has been based on that moment.” Today, Arciniega has maintained almost all A’s and anticipates finishing his associate degree this summer.

“Life itself has taught me to give back,” he said. “I grew up poor and learned to be humble. I know that I can’t be successful without helping others to be successful.”

Arciniega credits his time as a drill instructor for teaching him that lesson.

“Being a drill instructor taught me that the focus wasn’t about me,” he said. “Your stamp on a person will be carried with them forever.”

That’s why he takes his leadership role on campus so seriously. This year, he is working hard to make sure that Waubonsee’s veterans have opportunities to get involved in their communities. Those efforts include fundraising and volunteering for local nonprofits and pursuing partnerships with groups who serve veterans.

“We’re focusing on continuing to serve our country by serving our communities,” he said. “In doing that, we’re also serving ourselves.”

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Communities of Excellence Recognizes First Class of Participants

Waubonsee Community College recently recognized the first group of participants to complete training in its award winning Communities of Excellence program. The 10 participants – all local municipal employees -represented five communities. Over the last two years, they have completed 96 hours of specialized training covering 24 topics.

Communities of Excellence responds to the professional development needs of local government employees by offering a series of classes on a range of topics about contemporary issues in the municipal workplace, including conflict resolution, budgeting and reporting, succession planning, time management, strategic planning, ethics, working with difficult people, customer excellence and more.

Jennifer Milewski, senior accountant for the Village of Sugar Grove, said that as she drove to the ceremony last week, she thought about how much impact the lessons had made on her personally and professionally.

“It has helped me to figure out how to approach personal and professional problems, and how to be empathetic in my approach,” she said. “It has really just been such a positive experience that it’s hard to sum up.”

Lesa Norris, Waubonsee Dean of Workforce Development, said Communities of Excellence was created to address challenges, create opportunities and allow municipal employees to work with their peers. She noted that although participants had a range of responsibilities in their respective local governments, they learned that the root issues are similar, and that working together instead of in silos can increase efficiencies. 

"This program was designed to provide access to public sector employees for professional development, because a well trained and educated workforce is vital to any organization’s success,” said Waubonsee President Dr. Christine Sobek. “I hope you are all proud because you are our first class of participants. This program empowers you to meet the current and future demands of taxpayers and your employers.”

In September, the Communities of Excellence initiative won a National Exemplary Program Award in the Continuing Professional Education category from the National Council for Continuing Education and Training.

Established in April 2014, the program launched its first series that spring. Since then, 81 municipal employees have participated, representing eight local governments and 12 separate government departments. Those recognized in the ceremony were: Timo Bello (Elgin), David DeGroot (Geneva), Linda Ebinger (Oswego), Lori Grocke (Elgin), Greg Hulke (Elgin), Denise Ii (Sandwich), Matt Mattingly (Elgin), Jennifer Milewski (Sugar Grove), Aaron Neal (Elgin) and Dustin Schultze (Geneva).

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Awarded Grant to Improve Student Success

Waubonsee Community College was recently awarded a five-year grant totaling $2.6 million from the Department of Education to improve student success through enhanced services and offerings. The Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions Program, also known as Title V, provides grants for institutions to increase retention and completion of Hispanic and high-need students through improved educational offerings, services and initiatives. In order to qualify for the program, at least 25 percent of the student population served by an institution must be Hispanic.

For the second consecutive cycle, Waubonsee is the recipient of a Title V grant from the Department of Education. The grant is for five years, at $525,000 per year, totaling $2.6 million. Waubonsee’s goals for the grant are to increase first and second year retention and completion; improve success rates in online courses through course redesign, increased faculty professional development opportunities, and improved online readiness for students; and to decrease time to degree completion by highlighting options such as dual enrollment, College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and Advanced Placement(AP) testing, and prior learning assessment.

Waubonsee has partnered with the higher education technology company Civitas, which specializes in predictive analytics modeling. That partnership will allow Waubonsee to use data to better identify trends, themes and patterns in order to mitigate student attrition. The grant will also support the college’s plans to hire four Student Success Coaches who will handle students’ academic, financial and social needs in order to help them persist toward graduation.

“Waubonsee had great success with our first Title V grant, and we’re excited about implementing these new programs that will help our at-risk students succeed,” said Dr. Stacey Randall, Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Title V Project Director. “These funds will allow us to implement proven strategies that support students and encourage them to complete their certificate or degree.”

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Dunham Grant to Help Waubonsee Launch Accelerated Associate Degree

The Aurora-based Dunham Fund has awarded Waubonsee Community College a grant which will allow the college to launch an accelerated associate degree program with a business emphasis.

The grant award is for a maximum of $500,000. The new program will begin in fall 2016, and will enroll a maximum of 20 students in order to meet the terms of the grant.

The Dunham Fund Quick Path degree program will allow students to earn an associate degree – traditionally a two-year degree – in one year. The program will be intensive and will require a full-time commitment on the part of the student. This innovative program offering is unique to the district and region, and will allow students to enter the workforce quickly, or – if they desire – to enroll in a four-year institution and be able to receive a bachelor’s degree in three years. 

“Waubonsee Community College is committed to improving educational attainment for our communities through a variety of opportunities and flexible scheduling options, and this accelerated program provides another alternative for motivated learners seeking to complete their degree in a shorter amount of time,” said Dr. Jamal Scott, Waubonsee Vice President for Strategic Development.

The Dunham Fund was established by John C. Dunham in 1996 and awards grants to organizations that encourage innovation and collaboration in educational and community development programs and projects to effect positive change in the Aurora area.

Robert Vaughan, Executive Director of The Dunham Fund, said the organization feels strongly that dedicated students who desire to pursue an accelerated degree should have the opportunity. 

“The Dunham Fund is proud to provide these students the financial and educational support that will be required as they approach their educational goals in this demanding program, which should prepare the students well for the workplace while allowing them to obtain their degree in one year.”

Waubonsee administrators are in the process of identifying eligible students for the pilot program.

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Foundation Announces Scholarships Available

Waubonsee Community College Foundation Scholarship Applications are now available online for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Scholarships will be awarded in early April 2016 to be used beginning in the fall semester 2016.

To apply for a Waubonsee Community College Foundation scholarship, visit All applications must be completed and submitted online; paper copies will not be accepted. The due date is midnight, Feb. 8, 2016.

If you have questions or need assistance with completing a scholarship application, please call the Waubonsee Community College Foundation at (630) 466-2613. 

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Trustee Jim Pilmer Resigns After Decades of Service

Waubonsee Community College Trustee Jim Pilmer has tendered his resignation from the Board of Trustees after 23 years of dedicated service. The resignation will be effective Nov. 8.

In a letter dated Oct. 21, Pilmer cited his recent appointment as Executive Director of the Fox Valley Park District as reason for his resignation.

“In my new leadership role at this public institution, I will need to focus all of my energy and efforts into this endeavor and the residents served by the District,” he said.

Pilmer was first elected to the board in November 1992, but his service to Waubonsee has spanned decades. He enrolled in the College in August 1978 as a student athlete, graduated from Waubonsee in 1981 and then began volunteering for the Alumni Association beginning in 1982. He has also served on the Waubonsee Foundation Board of Directors from 1985-1992, serving as vice president from 1988-1989 and president from 1989-1992.

“Without question, Waubonsee has given far more to me than I could ever give back in return,” he said. “It has been my honor and privilege to be affiliated with such a vital and vibrant educational institution. I have been inspired by the students, faculty, administrators and fellow board members past and present who always motivated me to strive for good governance, prudent and responsible policy making and collaboration among our key stakeholders.”

Pilmer was recently announced as the new executive director of the Fox Valley Park District. He will serve as the sixth director in the park district’s 68 years, and will begin his new role on Nov. 9. The Waubonsee Community College Board of Trustees will appoint someone to fill the board vacancy for the remainder of Pilmer’s term of service, which ends in 2017.

“Mr. Pilmer’s presence on the board will be missed, but the impact of his decades of service to Waubonsee will continue to benefit the college indefinitely,” said Waubonsee President Dr. Christine Sobek. “We are grateful for the guidance and leadership he has provided for many years and in many roles, and we know that his talents will continue to serve our region in his new role with the Fox Valley Park District.”

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Student Senate Members Elected

Seven students were recently elected members of the Waubonsee Community College Student Senate. Student senate members are elected by the student body to serve one year.

During their term in office, the student senate members gain leadership and interpersonal skills, learn to work with budgets and experience how to organize campus events. They are responsible for administering student government policies and activities at the Sugar Grove, Aurora, Copley and Plano Campuses.

The 2015-2016 student senator office holders are: Sydnee Gillispie, of Yorkville (sociology); Brian Moreno, of Aurora (mass communications); Yosemite Pinedo, of Aurora (international relations); Claudia Resendiz, of Sandwich (elementary education); Alanis Romero, of North Aurora (pre-med); Isaac Soriano, of Aurora (science); Santino Zamudio, of Plano, (criminal justice); Jon Beltrano, of Batavia, (journalism); Katie Doherty, of Yorkville (special education); Johnathan Ford, of Aurora (special education); Baron Slatton, of Newark (computer science). Blair Gray, of Oswego (psychology) is president and Jesse Garner, of Aurora, (political science) is the student trustee.

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Lozano Named Featured Alumnus

Perseverance pushed Waubonsee Community College alum Maria Lozano through years of juggling work, school and child rearing to a fulfilling career today as the Director of English Language Learners for West Aurora School District #129. She learned about the eventual rewards of dogged determination from watching her parents, who left their families and familiar surroundings in Mexico to make a better life for their children here when she was a young child. In recognition of her tireless transformation from bilingual student to bilingual educator and leader, Waubonsee named Lozano its Student Success: Featured Alumnus for October 2015.

Born in Monterrey Nuevo Leon, Mexico, Lozano moved with her family to East Aurora when she was five-years-old. She attended Oak Park Elementary School, Simmons Middle School and East Aurora High School, then became a certified teaching assistant after graduating high school in 1982. Throughout those years, Lozano would often think of her father, a hard worker who always managed to provide for his family in spite of limited education and a language barrier. She grew up watching him reading a dictionary and practicing English with neighbors and co-workers.

 “He sacrificed, leaving his family behind to give his family a better life,” she said. “Both my parents having only a sixth grade education were brave to leave Mexico and start a new life in Aurora.”

That is why there was no one better suited to understand the trials and triumphs in a bilingual classroom than Lozano. For 10 years, she put her personal experiences to work as a bilingual teacher’s assistant at Beaupre Elementary School. But while helping out in the classroom by day and raising her four children at night, Lozano dreamed of doing more. A single mother, she applied for a grant and qualified. That push gave her what she needed to turn opportunity into reality, and she began taking night classes at Waubonsee.

“What stands out the most for me was that class sizes were small enough that we could engage in great dialog with all my teachers,” she said. “They knew me by name.”

Lozano said her algebra and biology teachers in particular went above and beyond to make sure she was always prepared for exams.

“I have learned to never give up on a dream despite obstacles that get in the way,” she said.   

Lozano said she is living proof that it is never too late to get a degree: In 1995, she completed her associate degree at Waubonsee and transferred to Aurora University, graduating in the fall of 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in education.  She was hired by West Aurora School District #129 as a second grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary, but her professional and academic goals still weren’t finished: Lozano went on to earn a Master of Arts of Educational Leadership from Aurora University in 2003, and continued teaching for 12 years, eventually moving into her current position in administration.

This year marks her sixth as the Director of English Language Learners, a fitting role for someone who has been bridging a world of two languages for her entire life. She knows exactly the opportunity and challenges at stake in her district’s bilingual classrooms.

“Having been a second language learner myself at a time when bilingual programs did not exist, I recall how difficult it was for me to learn both content and language in a general education classroom,” she said. “I am motivated by having the opportunity to be part of a team of teachers and administrators who specialize in providing our English Language Learners a program that meets both their academic and language needs.”

Lozano said the future is bright for others who want to work in her field.

“With the growing population of English Language Learners, our need for ESL/Bilingual Endorsed teachers is on the rise and in high demand,” she said. “I was recruited prior to graduating with my teaching degree and now in my position, I begin to recruit in January for the following year.”

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

John Steck Jr. Receives Juror’s Choice Award

John Steck Jr., Waubonsee Adjunct Photography Instructor, received a Juror’s Choice award for his photograph, “Me & Mom in a photo booth.”

The honor was bestowed at the international photography exhibition, “Fading,” in Budapest, Hungary. The show ran from Sept. 2 to 23 at the PH21 Gallery.

Steck also currently has work included in a group show at the David Weinberg Gallery, and was recently published in “Incandescent, a Color Film Zine.”

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Faculty Council Recognized with Inspiring Leader Award

The East Aurora School District Board of Education recently recognized the Waubonsee Community College Faculty Council with the Inspiring Leader Award for their collective work on the school supply drive for East Aurora High School.

Scott Hollenback, Associate Professor of Psychology, accepted the award on the behalf of the Waubonsee Faculty Council.

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Dean Serving as Board Chairman for Communities in Schools

Faith LaShure, Waubonsee Community College Dean for Enrollment Management, is serving as Board Chairman for Communities in Schools (CIS) of Aurora.

CIS of Aurora is part of a nationwide CIS network that includes more than 260 communities. The Aurora branch was started in 1991, and its mission is to engage community social and health services providers to work as a team with teachers and administrators in the schools in order to ensure that students and their families have access to the services they need in order to be successful, healthy and graduate. CIS partners with local organizations, including the East Aurora, West Aurora, Indian Prairie and Oswego school districts.

LaShure previously served as Chairperson Elect.

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Test Centers Earn "Exemplary" Distinction

SUGAR GROVE – Waubonsee’s Learning Assessment and Testing Services have been awarded National College Testing Association (NCTA) Testing Center Certification.

A letter from the NCTA president describes the test centers – located at the Sugar Grove, Aurora and Plano campuses – as “exemplary” and states that Waubonsee is “among the few test centers to receive this distinction.”

Kathy Lentz, Testing Services Manager, said Waubonsee sought the certification because it affirms the testing center’s high professional standards.

“We now have validation by an external agency and it shows that we adhere to best practices and the highest integrity standards in the industry,” she said.

Lentz added that there are only 80 testing centers in the country that have received the certification, and that each of Waubonsee’s three testing centers had to be certified separately.

“So this is a high distinction for us to have achieved,” she said.

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Chiefs' golfers hang on for Region IV Championship

Chiefs hang on to grab Region IV Championship for the first time since 2001 

Waubonsee Community College’s Men’s Golf squad held on to capture the 2015 Region IV Division II Championship over the past weekend. The Chiefs won the three-day tournament by just two strokes over conference rival Moraine Valley Community College, 956 to 958. It is the second Region IV Golf Championship ever for Waubonsee, with the only other title coming in 2001. The victory qualifies the Chiefs for the NJCAA Division II National Tournament next spring held at the Swan Lake Resort Golf Course in Plymouth, Ind. beginning on May 22, 2016.

Waubonsee raced out to a big lead on the opening day of the tournament at the Aldeen Golf Course in Rockford. The Chiefs posted a team total of 304 to take a 20 shot lead over second-place Black Hawk College after the first round. The following day Waubonsee carded a 322 to finish second on the day while their overall lead shrank to 12 strokes over second-place Moraine Valley. The Chiefs then struggled to a final round 330 on Saturday, narrowly hold off the Cyclones who posted a 320 to finish in second overall. Black Hawk came in third out of the 10 team field, 10 shots back while Sauk Valley Community College was fourth with a total of 981.      

Individually, Waubonsee’s Matt Yonkovich led a quartet of Chiefs that earned All-Region honors by finishing in the top-15. The sophomore placed second overall finishing nine shots back of medalist Jarred Hippen from Sauk Valley. A Kaneland High School product, Yonkovich tallied a 15-over par 231 for his three rounds. Waubonsee’s Noah Lindmark, a freshman from Minooka, placed seventh overall with a three-day total of 238. DeKalb native Jacob Cook finished 12th with a 243 over 54 holes, while Batavia High School graduate Jon Hvasta was one shot behind him in 13th place to round out the Chiefs’ All-Region foursome. Oswego High School alumnus Zack Zamin carded a 273 to round out Waubonsee’s participants. Head Coach Dave Heiss and Assistant Coach Rodney Davis were named the Region IV Division II Co-Coaches of the Year after leading the Chiefs to the title.

The Chiefs’ Region IV title comes on the heels of the squad winning the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference’s (ISCC) crown by the narrowest of margins just two weeks ago. Waubonsee finished in a tie for the top spot with Moraine Valley, both with 21 team points. However, the Chiefs edged the Cyclones by just four strokes (1569 to 1573) over five conference matches, an average of less than one shot per match between each team’s five players. The ISCC title is Waubonsee’s fourth under the direction of Coach Dave Heiss the last 24 years. The Chiefs previously were ISCC Champions in 2001, 2004 and 2010.

Yonkovich was the 2015 ISCC Medalist as the top golfer in the league after finishing third overall as a freshman. He posted a conference average of 73.75 per round to earn All-ISCC honors for the second straight year. Cook and Lindmark also earned All-ISCC status by finishing fourth and fifth, respectively. Cook carded an average of 76.75, while Lindmark finished with a 77.75 average over five conference matches.

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee’s Community Education Announces “A Season of Pure Magic”

Sugar Grove – Hypnotism, magic, and career development are all part of the offerings for Waubonsee Community College’s Community Education special events programs this year.

Dubbed “A Season of Pure Magic,” the schedule kicks off on Oct. 10 at the Sugar Grove Campus auditorium with “Miracles of the Mind,” an encore performance by Brian Imbus. His all-new show includes hypnotizing audience volunteers and leading them through a journey of the imagination. Imbus will also read minds and make predictions.

Imbus sold out his Waubonsee shows in 2013. Tickets are $19 for adults, and $12 for children age 12 and under.

For a limited time, you can save money when you purchase tickets for “Miracles of the Mind” and a spring performance by Daniel Martin, “Magic Made Me Do It. Until Oct. 10, tickets for both shows are for $29 for adults and $19 for children age 12 and under.

Martin’s March 5, 2016, show also takes place at the Sugar Grove Campus auditorium, and will showcase a high-energy blend of magic, escapes and comedy. Martin’s work has been featured on CBS, NBC, WGN, VH1, ESPN and at thousands of live events.

Tickets to Martin’s show are $19 for adults, and $12 for children age 12 and under.

For those looking to challenge their mind in terms of careers, Dr. James B. Huntington will present “How to Find a Lasting Career in the New Age of Work.”

This presentation is for those who are underemployed, unemployed or in transition in their careers. The author of several books on career development in the modern age, Huntington will discuss the new world of work and the 20 lasting career paths you need to know now. He will offer advice on successfully adapting your skill set to succeed in the world of automation, globalization and efficiency.

Huntington’s presentation takes place at 7 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Sugar Grove Campus’ Academic and Professional Center. Tickets are $10.

Waubonsee’s Community Education program offers personal enrichment courses, trips and tours, the Lifelong Learning Institute, special events, youth programs, community theater, and more. Information about these can be found at To purchase tickets for these special events, visit

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee’s Distinguished Contributor Award Goes to 551 Volunteers

For more than a decade, a group of stalwart volunteers has gathered to assist low-income residents with their income taxes on nights and weekends during tax season at the Waubonsee Aurora Campus. 

Their efforts have translated into millions of dollars back to the community, real world experience for Waubonsee Community College students, and one less worry for hard working residents who receive the services. In short, the program exemplifies what can be achieved when the classroom meets the community.

The local effort, a partnership between Waubonsee and the Center for Economic Progress (CEP), is part of a nationwide Internal Revenue Service program known as the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). Similar sites are hosted around the country.

This year, Waubonsee is honoring its VITA program volunteers with the Distinguished Contributor Award, which recognizes individuals or groups who have made an outstanding contribution to or given exemplary support to the college.

Launched locally in 2005 by accounting faculty members Dan Gibbons and Catherine Collins, VITA asks volunteers to commit to a minimum of 20 hours during the tax season, and to complete Internal Revenue Service certifications. Those training sessions equip volunteers with the necessary skills to assist clients.

George Sterling, Certified Public Accountant and Instructor at Waubonsee, currently manages the local program with the assistance of his wife Therese. The program provides services to families with annual incomes less than $50,000, and individuals with incomes less than $25,000.

Gibbons said he is impressed by the growth of the site since its beginning in 2005. He said that in the first year, volunteers completed 40 returns, and the next year, they completed more than 400. The program has continued to grow since.

Today, the work of 551 volunteers over 11 years has resulted in $13.1 million returned to the community. Since 2005, the program has served 7,267 clients who have filed a total of 13,570 federal and state returns.

Last season, the program served nearly 1,030 low-to moderate-income families and individuals, bringing $2 million in income tax refunds back to the local economy.  Gibbons said the program has benefited everyone involved.

“Volunteers have the opportunity to give back to their community, and both volunteers and students make long lasting connections,” he said. “Waubonsee has benefited as well. Due to connections we have made through VITA, two of our volunteers teach classes within the accounting program. One of those individuals has expanded the impact of the VITA program by managing a new site, unaffiliated with Waubonsee, in West Chicago.”

VITA coordinators and clients praise the volunteers for their work ethic, their commitment to the community, and for helping their clients maintain a sense of dignity and respect while dealing with what can be a stressful situation.

“I drive trucks and sell fruits and vegetables on the side,” said Curtiss Llong Bey, a 2015 client. “The service was exciting because everything got done faster than I thought. I really appreciate it. I have been telling people about it too. I used to do it myself and make errors. I went to the library last year to ask what the wording on a tax form meant, and they told me to come here. This is my second year, and I will be coming back as long as I make money.”

VITA is supported by a Waubonsee course, - ACC 245 VITA Program: Tax Procedure and Practice - which provides students with a service learning opportunity while gaining college credit. The program also provides field experience for students in the Legal Interpreting program, as those students provide interpreting services for clients while earning credits toward their required field experience.

Ne’Keisha Stepney, Assistant Dean of Business and Career Technologies, helps to oversee the program at Waubonsee.

“This program gives students a hands-on experience and a chance to work in their community from a different perspective,” she said. “It’s pure service learning.”

Therese Sterling, Assistant Site Manager, said the volunteers demonstrate that there is great value in being of service to others.

“We are grateful for their ongoing support, as many volunteers have been with the program for five or more years,” she said. “They show up with a smile, caring attitude, and approach the work they do whole-heartedly. Our volunteers not only support district residents, but also do so in a way that strengthens goodwill throughout our community.” 

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Names Kendall Sheriff Baird as Distinguished Alumnus

Given its name, it’s no wonder Waubonsee Community College takes its mission of serving the community very seriously. So too do many of the college’s most successful alumni, including Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird. As he nears his 25th year of serving and protecting as a member of local law enforcement, the college is proud to name Baird its 2015 Distinguished Alumnus.

A career in public service was always in Baird’s plans, from the time he was a teenager. In fact, his plan back then was to serve as an officer in the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office, then the Oswego Police Department, then become a lawyer, a judge and finally a state senator.

Remarkably, it’s a plan he’s stuck to — for the most part. He’s worked at both the Sheriff’s Office and the Oswego Police Department, and while not a lawyer, judge or state senator, as Sheriff, he is an elected official.

The foundation for all of Baird’s various roles was built at Waubonsee. After graduating from Oswego High School in 1986, Baird headed to the college to study criminal justice under longtime faculty members Bob May and Neil Lippold.

 “I had heard great things about Waubonsee, and it was a good fit for me,” Baird said. “I could work a couple of jobs while still getting my education.”

When he earned his associate degree in 1988, Baird was still too young to test to become a police officer, and so he continued his job in loss prevention at the Montgomery K-Mart store until he turned 21 and was hired on at the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office by then-Sheriff Richard Randall, also a Waubonsee alumnus.

Perhaps Randall saw in Baird the same thing Baird now sees in the Waubonsee graduates who apply to work for the county.

“The great thing I see in Waubonsee and other community college graduates is that they have often worked in the real world and have that life experience,” Baird said. “That experience helps them relate to the people and situations they’ll be dealing with.”

After working in countywide law enforcement for a few years, Baird went on to the next step in his career path — a job with his hometown police department. He spent more than 22 years there, rising through the ranks to become chief and also serving as the interim village administrator for a time.

As he moved up the ranks, Baird sought out additional education, earning his bachelor’s degree from Aurora University and his master’s degree from Western Illinois University. Throughout these experiences, he continued to draw on his time at Waubonsee.

“I would still find myself reflecting on projects I did at Waubonsee or even referencing books I had used there,” Baird said.

Baird consulted his long-held career plan once again in 2014 when he ran for and was elected Kendall County Sheriff.

“Kendall County is very diverse, ranging from suburban areas to more rural townships,” Baird said. “One day we could be dealing with a cow in a roadway and then the next with a drive-by shooting. It’s a very diverse area, and the workload is ever-changing.”

Whatever the nature of the communities in the county, Baird is making efforts to connect with all of them. He decided to have the Sheriff’s Office head up security at the Kendall County Fairgrounds this year in order to be more visible in the community. For National Night Out on Aug. 4, the office participated in “Cops and Kids: Taking a Swing at Crime,” an exhibition softball game between the office and some Oswego Pony League players.

“We really want to build relationships and respect between citizens and police,” Baird said.

Baird’s advice to new and aspiring police officers echoes this theme of respect. “Police power and authority is given by the people, and we’re there to serve them, not ourselves.”

Because of his exceptional service to local residents, Baird has been recognized many times throughout the years. Among his many honors and awards are the Lifesaving Award from the Illinois Police Association, the Medal of Valor from the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Metropolitan Enforcement Groups Director Award, Youth Service Volunteer Award, Oswegoland Optimist Police Officer of the Year, Governor’s Medal of Honor and the 2014 Illinois Crime Commission Police Chief of the Year. 

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Auto Body Repair Professor Named Outstanding Faculty

For the past several years, Waubonsee Community College’s Auto Body Repair Program and its students have received a variety of awards and accolades, including the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) Makeover Grant and several first-place finishes in SkillsUSA competitions. And this month, the man behind the program, Assistant Professor of Auto Body Repair Andy MacDonald, of Plano, is receiving an honor of his own in the form of the college’s 2015 Outstanding Faculty Member Award.

Like all Waubonsee faculty members, MacDonald measures his success by the success of his students, which has been impressive since he joined the college on a full-time basis in 2007. Over the years, MacDonald’s students have earned 17 top-three finishes in state-level SkillsUSA contests, along with five top-10 finishes at the national level, including two national champions.

“Placing in these contests provides students an opportunity to build a portfolio for employers, increase their self-confidence and receive another level of evaluation of their work,” MacDonald said.

Waubonsee auto body student Jose Martinez-Joya, who was the 2014 SkillsUSA National Champion and who will graduate this year, is quick to credit MacDonald for his success. “[MacDonald] is a great, great person and very experienced,” Martinez-Joya said. “He really knows his stuff and can teach it to others.”

What MacDonald strives to teach is all-encompassing. “My lesson plans and classroom instruction require students to become critical thinkers using logic to problem-solve, to work on projects alone and with a team, learn from their mistakes, and integrate soft skills with hard skills every day,” MacDonald said.

Of course those hard skills in auto body repair are essential, and it’s essential that they’re up to date in a field that’s constantly changing. To that end, MacDonald dedicates himself, his students and the entire program to continual professional development efforts. MacDonald routinely hosts Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) professional development courses in the Sugar Grove auto body shop, which offers him and his students a convenient way to keep up with the latest industry trends. Students graduate from Waubonsee’s program with several industry-recognized credentials, including an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certificate, and an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety and pollution certificate. They also have the opportunity to earn several Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications.

In 2011, the program received accreditation from the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF).

As with many career and technical education programs, it isn’t just the culture of the program that drives success but also the quality of its equipment and facilities, and those have been a passion of MacDonald’s since he arrived at Waubonsee. He has spearheaded several improvements, including the introduction of a solvent recycler, the development of an inventory system, and the addition of a computer lab since technology skills have become a requirement of the field.

MacDonald was also instrumental in the college applying for and receiving a prestigious $50,000 Ultimate Collision Education Makeover grant from the Collision Repair Education Foundation in 2013. The grant dollars were used to install a new, modern automotive paint spray booth at the Sugar Grove shop.

“The shop is so important to instruction because for one semester each academic year, it operates like a business,” MacDonald said. “We take in cars for minor repairs, and the students do the work, learning how to manage time, estimate and job cost. In this way, students graduate having done real work on cars with real problems.”

© 2012 Waubonsee Community College