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Waubonsee Recognizes AID Partnership As Institutional Success Story
All year long, as part of its 50th anniversary celebration, Waubonsee Community College has been recognizing community partnerships that bring value to students and area residents. For the role it has played in improving the mental health of the college’s students, Waubonsee is proud to recognize its partnership with Aurora-based Association for Individual Development (AID) as this month’s Student Success: Institutional Stories.
The story of college-aged students’ mental health is not necessarily a happy one. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), in the past year, more than 80 percent of college students felt overwhelmed by all they had to do, and 45 percent have gotten to the point of feeling that things were hopeless.
Obviously, such feelings can be huge barriers to academic success. That’s why Waubonsee’s Counseling, Advising and Transfer Center offers free personal counseling to students.
“We have amazing counselors, offering services at all four of our campuses,” said Dr. Melinda Tejada, Waubonsee’s Vice President of Student Development. “But we know crises don’t always happen when we have scheduled hours of operation.”
Recognizing that fact, the college partnered with AID in 2014 to create a Waubonsee Talk Line. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by counselors trained by AID, which operates other crisis referral hotlines.
The expertise AID brings both in the areas of mental health and local community resources has been a real positive for students, and the low cost of the local agency has been a real positive for the college.
"Our AID Talk Line Partnership has benefited our students at a fraction of the cost we'd pay for a national student assistance program,” explained Waubonsee’s Dean for Counseling, Career and Student Support Kelli Sinclair. “As an added bonus, AID knows our community inside and out, and they can better refer students to local agencies for support.”
But AID’s role with Waubonsee students goes beyond providing life-saving crisis support; sometimes, the organization has helped students find their life paths through the internships it provides. Adriana Resendiz took classes at Waubonsee, including an internship experience with the AID crisis line.
After completing her bachelor’s degree at Elmhurst College and working for a few years out of state, she’s back in Aurora working full-time for AID.
A partnership that can work full-circle in this way — a community organization helping the college and its students, only to have the college’s alumni return to work for it and continue the cycle of help — is truly remarkable and worthy of recognition.