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

Maya Angelou is credited as saying, “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength. We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all of the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter their color.”

This is certainly true at Waubonsee. We appreciate and value diversity. In fact, it is part of the college’s vision statement:

“Waubonsee Community College opens the door of knowledge, sparks imaginations, and enlightens lives through learning. We welcome the diverse abilities, goals, and experiences of individuals standing on the threshold of discovery. Our success is defined by the dreams we help shape, the opportunities we help design, and the futures we help create.”

Last March I wrote a column about the enrichment that diversity brings to the college experience. In that column I cited a report from the Brookings Institute that found that the Milleninial Generation is “the most diverse adult generation in American history.” Just a few months later in November 2018 a story from National Public Radio cites a Pew Research Center report that found, “[t]he youngest generation in the U.S. (Generation Z) is entering adulthood as the country’s most racially and ethnically diverse generation.” 

At Waubonsee we look for ways and opportunities to celebrate our diversity and enhance the academic experience for all students. In 2018 we launched an African-American Male Initiative. This program brought together students, college staff members and administrators, as well as local leaders from throughout the community. We were able to learn more about the unique challenges that African-American men face in completing their education and the students were introduced to remarkable mentors. City of Aurora Mayor, Richard Irvin, and several other community leaders came to the final meeting of 2018. At that meeting Mayor Irvin told the young men, “Don’t ever believe that someone tells you what you are and who you are and what you’re becoming, that it’s true. You guys decide what you’re going to be in the future. You and you alone. You decide your success.”  

I thank Mayor Irvin for being part of that initiative and for his words to those students. We know them to be true. There are countless stories of Waubonsee students who have decided their own success. We see them every day. And we see how the diversity of the community contributes to the individual decisions to succeed.

We have also partnered with Triton College in the Transforming and Inspiring Undergradate Men Pursuing Higher Education (TRIUMPH) Program. This program will allow many more young men to succeed in college. This is just another way that Waubonsee is working to remove barriers to learning and help people advance on their academic journey.

The people of Waubonsee really make a rich and beautiful tapestery. I am grateful for the incredibly and increasingly diverse population that is this college community. The NPR story from November also said that this youngest generation in the U.S., Generation Z, “is on its way to becoming the best educated generation yet.” We are proud to be an integral part of the educational journey of each generation as their first, next, or current destination for education and training that meets their life and career goals now and for the future.