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Waubonsee Community College's Counseling Department remains focused on one goal: helping students achieve to their highest levels, academically, professionally and personally. For that work, the department has been recognized through the college's "Placing Learning First" program.

Waubonsee Counseling Department Helps Students Achieve, Succeed

Waubonsee's eight faculty counselors, clockwise, from left, Ulysses Diaz, David Barreto, Evelyn Aviles-Diaz, Therese Kewin, Rosie Carbajal-Romo, Jamey DiVietro, Heidy Kindelin and Kristin Santillan

Students come to Waubonsee Community College for many different reasons, each unique to their own personal goals and desires.

But whether they seek a greater quality of life, advancement in their careers, or a start on their adult lives, the team at Waubonsee’s Counseling Department stands ready to help students tailor their unique educational experiences, maximize their time at Waubonsee, and achieve beyond what they believed possible.

For its role in shaping the lives of all Waubonsee students, Waubonsee is proud to recognize the staff of the Counseling Department as part of its “Placing Learning First” program.

Throughout the college’s history, Waubonsee counselors have focused their energies on little else besides helping students succeed.

Today, the Counseling Department enlists the aid of 13 counselors, including eight full-time faculty counselors, providing academic, personal and career counseling of all types to students from all walks of life, each with their own unique goals and purposes.

In 2013, Waubonsee counselors engaged in more than 25,000 counseling sessions with students.

“This particular faculty group is the strongest and most diversely talented I’ve had in the eight years I’ve been here as dean,” said Kelli Sinclair, Dean for Counseling and Student Support.

“They are intelligent, hard-working, and they bring a practical emphasis to their work. Most important, they each care about what’s in the best interest of the student.”

On any given day, Waubonsee counselors may help students with any number of matters.

Some days, the sessions will focus on academic planning, helping students chart their academic journey and determine what they need to achieve their personal educational goals, including transfer to a four-year college or university to earn more advanced degrees.

At other times, counselors will provide career assistance, helping students first assess their strengths and interests, using such tools as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and the Strong Interest Inventory, then guide them into educational programs to accentuate and draw out their strengths and steer them into fields in which they might find purpose and enrichment. 

Counselors also provide a skilled ear and a safe place for students to learn to manage stress and challenges that, if left unmet, could undermine their academic trajectory.

“What I find most rewarding is helping students understand themselves better,” said Rosie Carbajal-Romo, Bilingual Counselor at Waubonsee’s Sugar Grove Campus. “Whether it’s sorting out their academic plan, doing a career assessment, or helping them deal with a personal problem, it’s all about helping them take proactive steps to improve their overall quality of life.”

To ensure they are providing the best of assistance, Waubonsee’s counselors constantly educate and refresh themselves, keeping up to date with new curriculum and transfer information at four-year colleges, student assessment tools and techniques and student mental health issues, among other topics.

While acknowledging the demands of their positions, Waubonsee’s counselors said they enter each day with one goal in mind:

To give students the support they need to go as far as their abilities, tenacity, discipline and education can propel them.

“We serve as a catalyst in student lives for change and growth,” said Heidy Kindelin, Counselor and Associate Professor with Waubonsee’s Access Center for Disability Resources. “There is a sense of fulfillment as you watch them accomplish their goals and help them achieve their dreams.”

Others among Kindelin’s counseling colleagues echoed that sentiment, noting that the counseling department’s mission is not necessarily to serve the most students, but rather to serve to the best of the counselors’ abilities the students seated in front of them at any given moment.

“It’s not about the quantity of students I meet with,” said Kristin Santillan, Counselor and Assistant Professor at Waubonsee’s Sugar Grove Campus. “It’s about the quality of the interaction with each, knowing that their interaction with me was helpful with shaping their futures.”

Evelyn Avilés-Davis, Bilingual Counselor and Associate Professor at Waubonsee’s Aurora Campus, agreed.

“When I see those students graduate, knowing they worked so hard to be there, or when they stop by even after they transfer just to say,‘Hi,’ that tells me I did something right for that student,” she said.