News & Events
Waubonsee Student Serves His Fellow Veterans
Waubonsee Community College student Matthew Wolding, of Aurora, was discharged from the military in 2005, but his mission of service — to the nation, to his local community and to his fellow military members — has continued. His service was recently honored by President Barack Obama, and now Waubonsee is proud to recognize him as the college’s Featured Student for April.
While still a student at Aurora Central Catholic High School, Wolding followed a family tradition and signed up for the U.S. Navy. After graduating in 2002, he reported for boot camp and served until he was medically discharged in 2005.
With public service still on his mind, Wolding enrolled at Western Illinois University (WIU) and earned his bachelor’s degree in law enforcement/justice administration in 2010. But a career as a police officer was not to be. “My knee disagreed with me,” he said.
Wolding decided to instead pursue a career helping ease other people’s physical ailments and so enrolled in Waubonsee’s Therapeutic Massage Program in 2011.
Early on in his time at Waubonsee, he met with Waubonsee’s Transfer/Veterans Advisor Heather Watson.
“I happened to be wearing my WIU Vets Club shirt, and so Heather encouraged me to join Waubonsee’s Vets Club,” Wolding said.
He went to a meeting that afternoon and by spring of 2012, he had been elected the group’s president for the 2012-2013 academic year.
“The peer network the club provides is really amazing,” Wolding said. “We advocate for veterans’ services on campus and really do anything we can to help vets here at Waubonsee have a better experience.”
This year, the club has worked with the college’s Career Services Department to develop resources that help veterans translate their military experience into civilian job skills. Wolding also helped found a chapter of the SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society at Waubonsee as well.
“I network with other student vets clubs across the country,” Wolding said. “I try to learn what’s working for them and what can be implemented here.”
Wolding’s network of student veterans is more expansive than most, thanks to his experience as a state outreach coordinator for the Student Veterans of America. He held that position for six months in the spring and fall of 2012 as part of a fellowship through The Mission Continues, an organization that allows veterans to use their skills to help their communities.
“That experience really changed me,” Wolding said.
For his culminating community service project at the end of the six months, he chose to do clean-up and landscaping work at one of the homes operated by Aurora’s Hope for Tomorrow, which helps adults suffering from mental health and/or substance abuse issues.
“To get to do a project to help the community, I loved that idea,” Wolding said.
With his involvement in the Waubonsee Veterans Club, the Student Veterans of American and the Batavia chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Wolding accumulated 900 hours of community service in 2012. This impressive total recently earned him The President’s Volunteer Service Award at the gold level.
“Matt's motivation to assist other veterans, both on campus and within the community is unparalleled,” Watson said. “It has been a wonderful experience working with him while he serves as the WCC Veterans Club President.”
While his presidency will end this spring as he graduates from Waubonsee with an Associate in General Studies degree and a Certificate of Achievement in Therapeutic Massage, Wolding’s dedication to community service will go on. He has applied to become a part of AmeriCorps VISTA, a national program of community service that works to bring people out of poverty.
After that, who knows?
“The sky is the limit,” Wolding said. “I may even start my own nonprofit. The mission does continue — to serve the community, my family — that is never going to end.”