One of the wonderful things about attending college is the lifelong connections we often make. The people we meet along our academic journey become friends, colleagues and peers. At Waubonsee, we take great pride in the relationships we have with our students, faculty, staff, and the community. We constantly work to strengthen these relationships and expand the network of people we are connected to.
Through a recently-launched initiative to engage more effectively with our alumni, we have learned that our alumni are very interested in maintaining connections with Waubonsee. We are excited about this interest, especially because we want to give our current and future students the advantage of a strong alumni network. We want that network to extend beyond a relationship with the college to include connecting with and helping individuals. Our vision is that our current students feel like they are part of the larger Waubonsee family and alumni network from their first day on one of our campuses.
CAREER AND COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS
Our Career Development Center has recently launched a web-based networking tool that brings current students, alumni, faculty and staff together to share experiences, resources and job opportunities. Our goal is that Waubonsee Connect will be a place where everyone connected to Waubonsee will be able to learn from each other.
On April 5, we will host our annual Spring Career Fair at our Sugar Grove Campus to connect people with jobs. This is a great opportunity to network and make career-enhancing connections with employers.
Together we are also working to strengthen the connections with our community. As an example, we have connected with many people in our district through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program at our Aurora Downtown Campus. Over the program’s fourteen years, thousands of people have received important assistance with their taxes.
RELATIONSHIPS ARE WHO WE ARE
Though some of these tools for creating connections are new to us, the need for the connections is not new. In fact, it is part of who we are. In a column in October of 2010, I wrote:
The best way community colleges benefit their communities is through their students and alumni. Waubonsee graduates fill critical roles in our cities and villages, businesses, industries, schools, and social service and health care organizations. Our alumni keep us safe, keep us healthy, and keep the economy growing. That is the true measure of the community service we provide.
Since that was published, we have significantly expanded our community impact. As an indicator of that impact, earlier this academic year our 300,000th student enrolled in classes at Waubonsee. If we counted up all the students and employees of Waubonsee from over the years, we would be approaching a half million people in the Waubonsee family.
We recently recognized our 2018 Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Members. Combined they have more than 40 years of teaching experience at Waubonsee, as well as service and contributions to the entire region. Andy Clements, one of the two 2018 Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Members, said it well: “It’s a family here. We develop lifelong relationships with students, the faculty and the institution.”
And that is something that we are very proud of.