Portrait of President Dr. Christine Sobek
Christine J. Sobek, Ed.D.

In a recent opinion column in the New York Times, David Brooks makes the case that there should be more rituals in life and in society. “Rituals often mark doorway moments, when we pass from one stage of life to another. They acknowledge that these passages are not just external changes but involve internal transformation,” Brooks writes (emphasis added).

Brooks also writes about the value of “collective rituals” for communities; occasions that, among other things, would be for “people to make promises toward one another—specific ways they are going to use their gifts to solve the common challenge. Towns are built when people make promises to one another, hold people accountable and sacrifice together through repeated interaction toward a common end.”

That really is the essence of a college education. Colleges provide those doorway moments for people. In fact, our vision statement at Waubonsee begins with, “Waubonsee Community College opens the door of knowledge…” (emphasis added). The people who pass through the door of knowledge are then prepared to use their knowledge and skills to solve common problems and work toward that common end.

In the 2018-2019 academic year, we recognized and celebrated the accomplishments and contributions of many people at Waubonsee. People like Chad Lockman, Cassie Day and Heather Binder who all graduated from Waubonsee and now help their communities through assisting military veterans, teaching, and improving living conditions respectively. We highlighted the student success coaches who help people achieve their dreams of a college education and we featured the college’s Fire Science Technology Program, which trains future community first responders and leaders.  We also joined with our community by providing the new Aurora Strong Scholarship as a recognition of the community support and strength demonstrated after the tragic shooting of February 15 in Aurora.

James Fallows, a long-time correspondent for The Atlantic, wrote a book with his wife Deborah in 2018 about the travels to cities and towns across America. He wrote in Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America, “Not every city can have a research university. Any ambitious one can have a community college. And while research universities are the most important parts of the U.S. educational system from a global perspective, I’ve come to think that community colleges matter most domestically right now.” 

At last month’s commencement we celebrated our fifty-first graduating class; a collective ritual marking both the external changes and internal transformation of people as they prepare to enrich their lives, their families and their communities. We are grateful to play a part in the contributions that Waubonsee alumni make within our community every day.