When I walked across the stage at the Geneva High School graduation ceremony two short years ago, I was excited but nervous. I had already decided to continue my education at Waubonsee Community College, but I was uncertain this would all take shape. While I have crammed plenty of learning into the short time since then, it is the connections I made with my professors and peers that truly defined my time at Waubonsee, and will continue to influence my life down the road.

Once I overcame the anxiety of navigating the college campus, I was introduced to the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), just one of several honor societies on the campus. After meeting with society advisors, I signed up and became a member by the end of my first semester of college. Soon after, I joined the Executive Board of NSLS as President of the society. In the spring semester, I joined another honor society, Phi Theta Kappa, and, courageously or foolishly, entered the Waubonsee Honors Program.

Through my involvement in these honor societies, the Waubonsee Honors Program and my regular class load, I was introduced to many amazing faculty and staff members, some of whom have become my academic advisors and mentors. The faculty and staff I have gotten to know on campus took the time to know me as an individual and did so much more than simply teach the curriculum. They wanted to make a personal connection, chat after class, and help me achieve success in the classroom and in all of my pursuits.

As a result of personal connections and interactions with professors and other Waubonsee staff members, I was asked to be the student speaker at the college’s commencement ceremony. Joining honor societies and working on campus in the Todd Library helped me to make the most of my short time at community college by building strong relationships with professors, campus employees, library staff, and fellow students.

Investing just a few short minutes a day or a few hours each week to chat with professors, meet with counselors and Student Life professionals makes all the difference as to whether your time in college passes by with few experiences or builds your network and provides opportunities. College is not the time to simply attend class and go straight home; rather, it is a time to take advantage of the many people and experiences offered.

After summer classes, I will leave campus with an Associate of Art degree and with many great experiences I would have never gained had I not taken the time to connect with my professors and interact with the diverse community found around every corner at the college. In August, I’ll attend Lewis University in Romeoville, where I plan to major in English Education with a Business Administration Minor. Because of my positive experiences at Waubonsee, I hope to teach at a college one day as well. I was able to see firsthand the impact the faculty can have on students, and I hope to be that positive influence for others too.

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