Community colleges help people from all backgrounds and experience realize all kinds of educational and career goals. Given the depth and breadth of our offerings, we’re able to encourage students to consider options they may not have imagined — with the goal of finding the right fit and a successful career path.

At Waubonsee Community College, students often come to us directly from high school to complete the first two years of work toward a bachelor’s degree. These students earn a transfer-oriented associate degree, while others study in one of our more than 130 occupational degree and certificate programs in order to move directly to the workforce. Many adults also fill our classrooms to advance in their current careers or to start fresh on new career paths. Among our four campuses that offer classes during the day, evenings and weekends, and through our large array of online offerings, all students have the convenience and flexibility to pursue their educational dreams.

One area where Waubonsee continues to excel is working with students as individuals with distinct goals. This is now truer than ever before as students shed the old perception of some classes being better suited for either female or male students. The economic downturn accelerated this trend as more students look for career areas based on growth and stability, no matter if their pursuit bucks traditional gender roles.

Many economists dubbed our recent recession a “he-cession” because it led to the loss of jobs for more men than women and more significantly hit industries traditionally filled by male workers. We’ve seen this translate to more men earning degrees and certificates in our health care-oriented programs such as nursing, massage therapy and other allied health disciplines. While these programs still graduate more women than men, more men are entering these vital jobs.

Women, too, are breaking through gender barriers. At our May commencement ceremony, graduation speaker Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon highlighted Alexandra “Alley” Domar, of Maple Park, for breaking the mold by becoming the first female student at Waubonsee to earn an Auto Body Associate of Applied Science degree. She also became the second female student to complete the Automotive Technology degree. An outstanding student, Alley faced the top automotive students from around the country at the national SkillsUSA competition. She followed her passion and has a bright future ahead of her.

These are just a few examples of careers and jobs open to anyone with the drive to go after their dreams. Our counselors work with students to help them find the right fit, which can translate into success in college and beyond. A new fall semester is right around the corner. I encourage anyone looking for a new start or who has an unfulfilled dream to consider finding your path at Waubonsee. The first step can be the hardest, but you are not alone. We are committed to helping each and every student find success.