Building connections leads to success at community college
Community colleges are very closely connected to their communities. The faculty members who teach, the staff members who support, and the students who learn do so as members of the college's community of learners.
Those bonds are strong, and lead to student success in a variety of ways.
Waubonsee's Connect4Success (C4S) Program has been making a difference in the lives of students for several years. Robin Nelson greatly benefitted from the C4S program because of the connection he had with his academic coach, Iris Castellanos.
"She's been instrumental in my success here," he said. "I'd have been pretty lost without this program ... It was really cool to have someone to help."
Best practices learned from this program are being implemented throughout Waubonsee's counseling and advising services.
Kenyon Helm is a current student who has also benefitted from the strength of personal connections with a mentor, Dr. Chassie Sherretz, in Waubonsee's Transforming and Inspiring Undergraduate Men Pursuing Higher Education (TRIUMPH) Program.
Kenyon said, "Chassie really pushed me to be better. I feel like I'm more of a person that has more of an understanding of people and how things work, and I want to help people. I want to be more like Chassie."
These connections are not limited to those between students and mentors. Connections between students are also important to student success. Waubonsee students give back to communities in a variety of ways and, in so doing, they enhance their educational experience.
For example, Nicole Gamble participated in an Alternative Spring Break trip in 2018. She went with several other students to Richmond, Kentucky, to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity® on home renovation projects.
"When the trip started, I worried that I would not get along with everyone, but I ended the trip with some friends that I never thought I would be friends with," Gamble said. "I did not think this trip would teach me life lessons, but learning to get to know others was definitely one of them."
We also know that space is important in fostering community and building connections. The college's library manager, Spencer Brayton, recently wrote an article about the importance of libraries as places to build community.
We are also renovating our Plano Campus, and when it reopens in August it will have spaces designed for students to study and work together to build and strengthen connections.
We believe in the power of connections; students to mentors, students to students, and students to the communities in which we live. Waubonsee's strategic plan is centered on student equity and success, community connections, and employee and organizational excellence.
Because Waubonsee is more than college, we are community college.