Portrait of President Dr. Christine Sobek
Christine J. Sobek, Ed.D.

It’s hard to believe that Waubonsee’s Spring Break is just around the corner and that last year at this time we entered entirely unfamiliar ground, a global pandemic. One year later, I am so proud of the incredible resilience that Waubonsee students and employees have demonstrated during such a challenging year.

Students continued to make progress toward their educational goals. Many were spurred on by their desire to enter the health field and join those working to save lives. Employees persevered to continue our mission of providing education and training opportunities for our communities. And our employees delivered instruction and support services in innovative ways as we worked to meet the needs of all students.

Even before the pandemic I often advised our employees to “expect and embrace disruption.” While the coronavirus has been the most significant disruption we have faced in our lifetimes, it is certainly not the only one. We all face disruptions in our lives every day whether they are disruptions like a global pandemic or economic downturn that affect many individuals or another life event that may affect a small number of individuals.

For several years, I have periodically shared what I call my “balance speech.” We all wear many hats in life. A few of mine include community college President, community leader, wife, mother, daughter, and mentor. In addition to necessity, perhaps I come by my interest naturally. I am a Libra. The symbol associated with this sign is the scales of balance representing the balance that Librans continually seek in themselves and their lives.

When most of us picture a balanced life, we see ourselves relaxed, stress-free, and guilt-free. Every activity we pursue is given our full attention and receives our best effort. Most of us frequently feel more like we are walking a tightrope and the slightest breeze will knock us out of balance and off our tightrope.

More recently, the idea of resilience has been introduced. Being resilient is the ability to bounce back to a previous state of balance. Even more recently, the concept of “grit” has become popular. Merriam-Webster defines grit as firmness of mind or spirit: unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger. I believe both these qualities are important to success.

Recent events have definitely thrown many of us out of balance. The ongoing uncertainty in today’s world and around what our future lives may look like continues to challenge our ability to achieve balance, resiliency and grit.

In Waubonsee’s current Annual Report we referred to the 2019-2020 academic year as a Tale of Two Years, a take-off on the Charles Dickens title, “A Tale of Two Cities.” Continuing that literary theme, I would name our 2020-2021 academic year after the Charles Portis novel, “True Grit” because I have seen our students, employees, and community demonstrate “True Grit” in the face of unprecedented change and obstacles. And, I am already looking forward to sharing our next Annual Report next fall so that everyone will have the opportunity to learn of the many successes of this year and the “True Grit” that made them possible.