Waubonsee Community College announces its 2019 Distinguished Contributor and Distinguished Alumnus. Dr. Gina Santori is this year’s Distinguished Contributor. Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman is this year’s Distinguished Alumnus.
Santori, a podiatric physician and surgeon and a registered nurse, serves on the Nursing Program Advisory Board at Waubonsee Community College and has served on the college’s Foundation Board since September 2014. She earned a degree in nursing from Truman City College of Chicago, a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Illinois and a Doctorate of Podiatric Medicine from the College of Podiatric Medicine in Chicago. She has also earned a master’s degree in bioethics and a doctorate degree in bioethics from Loyola University. Her education and professional experience led to her love and appreciation for the Waubonsee Nursing Program.
Santori established two annual nursing scholarship awards at the college in 2013. In 2018, Santori made a generous donation of $250,000 to the college to support students in the Nursing and Health Care Programs. This donation was the largest single cash donation in the college’s history.
Santori participates in the selection process of the recipients of the two annual nursing scholarships that she provides and admires what she sees in the candidates.
“I am always struck by the diversity of the applications. These are real people who have had real struggles in their past and now want to help people. Their backgrounds will give them an advantage in working with patients,” she said.
As a doctor, Santori also has the opportunity to work with students who have completed Waubonsee’s programs.
“I’ve seen the surgical techs up close. I know they are great.”
Ziman graduated from West Aurora High School in 1991 and from Waubonsee with an Associate in Applied Science in 1993. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Aurora University in 2003, a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Management/Organizational Development from Boston University in 2008 and a master’s degree from the Naval Post Graduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security. She has also completed training sessions with the Senior Management Institute for Police at Boston University, the FBI National Academy, the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the Kellogg School of Management.
Ziman was sworn in as an Aurora Police Officer in 1994. She was a Community Policing Officer from 1997-1998 when she was selected to develop and implement a Domestic Violence Reduction Unit (DVRU) and was a DVRU detective from 1998-2001. She was also a member of the Aurora Police Honor Guard from 1999-2001. She was a field training officer from 2001-2003. In 2003 she was promoted to Sergeant and became the coordinator for the field training program. In 2008 she was the first female in the department’s history to be promoted above the rank of Sergeant when she was promoted to Lieutenant. She was promoted to Commander in 2010. As Commander, she designed and implemented the performance management system, created the burglary task force and held community forums to keep the public informed. Ziman was named the Aurora Chief of Police in 2016.
Santori and Ziman will be recognized at the college’s commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 18 on the Sugar Grove Campus in the Field House. The college will have two commencement ceremonies, one at 10 a.m. and the other at 2 p.m. Santori will be recognized at the 10 a.m. ceremony and Ziman will be recognized at the 2 p.m. ceremony.
The Distinguished Contributor Award is presented each year to an individual or group who has made an outstanding contribution or given exemplary support to Waubonsee Community College. Nominees for the award are recognized as having made an extraordinary commitment to promoting the college and its mission.
The Distinguished Alumnus Award is presented each year to an outstanding graduate of Waubonsee Community College. Awardees have distinguished themselves in their chosen profession, have documented evidence of contribution and service to their community, and demonstrated a continued interest in lifelong education.