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

January is the time that many of us strive to live up to New Year’s resolutions or make commitments to enhance our lives in a variety of ways. We have all been affected by the global pandemic in some way and the practice of physical distancing has highlighted the importance of our personal and professional connections. As a result, many of our resolutions and commitments may be focused on creating or renewing connections.

Famed rugby coach and leadership speaker Larry Gelwix shared five strategies for success; provide horizontal leadership, don't play with snakes, hit the field running, expect to W.I.N. (ask What’s Important Now), and focus on the final score. This approach to coaching and life is part of what has led Coach Gelwix to be labeled the “Winningest Coach in America.” Coach Gelwix further explained that focusing on the W.I.N. “every down, every game” helps to avoid going through the game, or life, on autopilot.

Events of the past year have prompted many to ask themselves, What’s Important Now, again and again. For many, that answer revolves around family and building a bright future for themselves and their family. And last year, Waubonsee students again demonstrated the power of education and connections.

For example, Maria Zarate Espinoza was planning to spend last summer in a paid internship at the University of Illinois learning laboratory and research skills. Annabelle Barragan was on a study abroad program in England during the spring 2020 semester. The coronavirus pandemic changed their plans however both students stayed focused on their W.I.N, completed their studies, graduated from Waubonsee and began the next phases of their academic journey.

Jesse Giron attended college for a year after she graduated from high school, but she chose to take a year off to see if she “wanted to keep going to school.” In that time, she grew to love photography and travel. With a renewed focus on her W.I.N., she returned to Waubonsee and graduated with a degree in communications in May 2020 while working full-time and in the middle of the pandemic.

Kenyon Helm was a very smart student at East Aurora High School but struggled to find motivation in college. After stopping out of college for a time, he found success and motivation with mentorship through Waubonsee’s TRIUMPH Program and also graduated in May 2020 and is now studying at Aurora University.

Alexis Hiles is a nursing student at Waubonsee with a remarkable focus on her W.I.N. As the parent of a young child, she knew that she wanted her child to have the very best opportunities. Armed with a passion for helping people through caring for their health, Alexis has worked her way to her degree with help from the Waubonsee Works Program.

There will always be distractions keeping us from achieving our goals if we allow it. However, as Coach Gelwix has shared, focus on the final score of getting a degree or certificate that will help you on your path to a rewarding career or that dream job you’ve always wanted. And then, pay attention to your W.I.N., every assignment, every class, and that bright future for you and your family will grow closer every day.