Malcolm X said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” This bit of advice seems especially appropriate this time of year, as millions of high school and college students graduate and head off in new directions, looking to access brighter futures.

We can’t help but wonder what the future will hold for these graduates. Of the 1,035 members of Waubonsee Community College’s Class of 2015, we know that almost 800 plan to transfer on to four-year schools across the country, possibly living away from home for the first time and taking their education to the next level. More than 200 others will use their new credentials to secure better jobs or start a different career path.

But even if we know their immediate plans upon graduating, the rest is hard to predict. Will they like their four-year school? Will they change their major while there? Will they stay on the same career track or at the same company for decades, create a new business venture or discover a new nonprofit passion? Not only will these graduates change as the years go by, but so too will the world around them, as technology and culture continue to advance.

Such unpredictability is inevitable when looking ahead to the future, but as Malcolm X pointed out, the best we all can do is to educate ourselves and prepare. So just as our graduates have done that on an individual basis, Waubonsee is now launching an initiative that allows us to do that on larger-scale institutional and community levels.

Waubonsee’s Vision 2050 project seeks to bring together students, faculty, staff, community members, businesses, local leaders and others in an effort to anticipate, imagine and elevate our collective futures. As Waubonsee “graduated” from its 2020 College Master Plan earlier this year, completing that plan ahead of schedule and on budget, we were looking for our "next big thing." With the face of education changing rapidly in light of technological advances, privatization, and students' shifting wants and needs, the answer became clear — engage in meaningful dialogue about what the future may hold for Waubonsee and its surrounding communities.

This dialogue will take center stage at our Vision 2050 Futures Summit on Tuesday, June 23 at the Sugar Grove Campus. Everyone is invited to this free event to share their ideas and get inspired by world-renowned business futurist Nicholas J. Webb, the author of “The Innovation Playbook” and the summit’s keynote speaker. You can learn more about the day’s agenda and reserve your spot at  

There’s already a healthy discussion going on in the Vision 2050 online Idea Lab, and I encourage you to log on and join in. You can submit your own idea, vote/comment on other ideas, or simply educate yourself on what's trending in higher education and other industries. 

Looking 35 years into the future is certainly a challenging, but ultimately worthwhile endeavor, especially if we all tackle it together. As English writer John Galsworthy said, “If you do not think about your future, you cannot have one.”

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