Waubonsee Community College launched its Honors Program in the 1986-1987 academic year. At that time, the program offered high-ability students the opportunity to register for honors course sections in English, Sociology and Communications. For the 1990-1991 academic year, the program was adjusted to allow students to work with faculty members on honors projects in a variety of courses and, therefore, honors sections were no longer offered. Today, students apply to be accepted into the program and are considered an Honors Program Graduate by earning an associate degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher and earning 15 or more credit hours of Honors Program courses with a minimum GPA of 3.0 in those honors courses.
In the 2016-2017 academic year, Elmhurst College added to the prestige of the Waubonsee Honors Program by providing one Honors Program Graduate a scholarship to continue their education at Elmhurst.
“The Honors Scholarship allows us to recognize one outstanding student and reward them for their commitment and diligence in their academic careers. These recipients embody everything that Elmhurst College values and strives to cultivate in our Honors Program,” said Kristina Black, Associate Director of Transfer Admission at Elmhurst College.
The first recipient of the Elmhurst College Honors Program Scholarship was Lorena Gonzalez of Aurora. Gonzalez is a first-generation student, as well as first-generation American. She graduated from East Aurora High School in 2015 and began taking classes at Waubonsee that fall. She graduated from Waubonsee in May 2017 with an Associate in Science.
“My experience at Waubonsee helped me gain confidence and taught me to face challenges head-on. During my time there I learned to not just attend school, but seek commitment, involvement and connection through several associations,” said Gonzalez.
The fall 2016 semester at Waubonsee was key for Gonzalez. During that term, she was accepted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, as well as the Waubonsee Honors Program. Her work in the Honors Program helped her become a more independent thinker and more efficient in completing research projects.
“Through the extra work, I learned the importance of developing time management skills, taking advantage of the tutoring center and building relationships with mentors and professors,” said Gonzalez.
Those skills developed in the Waubonsee Honors Program transfer nicely to Elmhurst College.
“I think Waubonsee does a tremendous job of preparing their students to transition and be successful at Elmhurst College. Since the 2016-2017 academic year, the average GPA among Waubonsee transfer students has been 3.5. This is impressive because it speaks to the high academic abilities of Waubonsee’s population and suggests their capability of being valuable contributors in our campus community—both in the classroom and in other arenas,” said Black.
Gonzalez is now a student at Elmhurst studying actuarial science. She plans to graduate in May 2019 with a bachelor’s degree. She recognizes the value and importance of the Honors Program at Waubonsee and the Elmhurst College Scholarship.
“As a member of the Honors Program, I was blessed with the opportunity to apply for and obtain a scholarship that allowed a first-generation college student like me to overcome economic boundaries. Waubonsee has helped me accomplish my initial dream of becoming the first in my family to obtain an associate degree and has moved me closer to accomplishing my goals of earning a higher degree and starting a career in business statistical probability.”
Since its beginning 32 years ago, the Honors Program has given students the opportunity to pursue academic interests while demonstrating academic excellence. Lorena Gonzalez is an example of that. She was recognized as a Student Success: Institutional Story by Waubonsee’s Board of Trustees at its regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 19.
Visit www.waubonsee.edu/honors to learn more about the Honors Program at Waubonsee.