Community colleges guide students on path to success

Posted: Apr. 15, 2018 12:15 am

To the Herald-Whig:

April is Community College month. In 1986 President Ronald Reagan first declared April the month we celebrate the contributions community colleges make to our country's educational system, economy and quality of life.

Like many of you, I grew up and received my education from fifth grade through college right here in West Central Illinois. This region is special because education, industry and nonprofits work together for the betterment of everyone. That's why I am honored to serve the communities throughout our nine-county district, our 1,825 current students, and our 14 high school districts as president of John Wood Community College.

We are one of the few colleges that still has "community" in our name because that is who we are and what we value. Community colleges educate the entire community and students from all walks of life. During the last academic year, 5.9 million students nationwide enrolled in classes at their local community college. Statistics show that in the previous year nearly half of all students in our country and state who graduated with a four-year college degree attended a community college at some point in their academic career.

In the past 44 years, John Wood has helped more than 100,000 students from age 6 to 66 enrich their lives through learning. What is exciting is helping them find their path to success.

Success might be the first person in a family completing the first two years of a bachelor's degree, a motivated pre-engineering student focused on graduating debt-free, a kindergartner exploring the wonders of nature, a single mom gaining a nursing credential to provide for her family, a dad earning a manufacturing degree to gain a promotion at work, a hard-working student passing the GED to break the cycle of poverty, or a senior citizen working on estate planning.

All of these are examples of how community colleges impact lives through learning.

Whatever path our students choose, our communities are better because of it. The knowledge and skills they gain are taken back to their families, businesses or organizations to keep this area vibrant and growing.

It is an honor to be part of these educational journeys, which is why I want to take this time during Community College month to say thank you.

First, I would like to thank our students for choosing John Wood Community College. We value you and know you have a choice when it comes to your education, so we focus our work every day on your personal and professional success.

Second, I want to thank our faculty and staff. Day in and day out, faculty provide our students the foundational knowledge upon which their futures and careers will be built. Our staff takes great pride in providing support to our students before, during and after their time at one of our six locations.

Third, I want to thank our community partners who work with us to ensure relevancy of educational programs. Advisory councils, partnerships with local colleges and universities, and collaboration with business and community leaders are at the heart of how we serve our students, communities and those living in the tri-state area.

Fourth, I want to thank our Board of Trustees, who graciously volunteer their time and serve as great stewards and advocates for all of our communities.

Lastly, I want to thank the people and communities we strive to serve every day. We continually work to find new, creative ways to meet and exceed your expectations.

It is because of all of you that we have a lot of great things going on at John Wood Community College. Thank you for trusting us to serve you in the past, now and in the future.

Mike Elbe

John Wood Community College president