Waubonsee professor shares how he got into learning, teaching in automotive program

How do I reset my journey? What if I haven't figured out what my journey is yet? Where will this journey take me?

These are all questions that our students ask themselves, but this line of questioning shouldn't just apply to current students. It should apply to future students as well. Future students who want to gain a particular skillset; future students who want a particular and meaningful career; or future students who are currently in the workforce but want a change. The bottom line is that all of us are on a journey, and at different points along our journey, we must change our course and reset because the world around us has changed, or we have changed what we want to be in that world.

I vividly recall my magical reset moment where my entire journey changed in a matter of a few minutes because someone made me see the larger world around me. I had to see past what I thought the world looked like and realize that I didn't know what I didn't know. I also realized that there are people out there to help me discover opportunities available to me.

I was in my senior year of high school and had no idea what I wanted to do next. My parents always encouraged me to go to college so I could have more opportunities than they had. This was a great idea on paper but didn't resonate with me because, at that point in my life, I did not like school. I also didn't want to go to college just for the sake of going to college.

At that time, I was enrolled in a handful of career and technical education classes at Oswego High School and knew I liked working with my hands. I learned many important skills in those classes, but as an 18-year-old kid, I had no idea how to apply those skills.

My automotive instructor mentioned that Waubonsee was hosting an automotive open house and that I should go visit to learn about their program. Sure, why not ... a day off school, and getting to go see something that I enjoyed doing? Count me in! I was at the end of high school and needed a new journey to move forward. I was willing to go see the world as I thought it existed.

When I walked into Waubonsee's auto shop at the Sugar Grove campus, I saw the reset button right in front of me. In that moment, I was exposed to an entire world that I did not even know existed, in an area that I thought I knew everything about.

The clincher came when I began talking to Ken Kunz, one of the professors in Waubonsee's automotive technology program. He talked about the vast opportunities available in the automotive field, and that there were many more jobs and opportunities aside from just a repair technician. He opened my eyes to see many paths that I never knew were there.

That five-minute conversation reset my journey. Waubonsee showed me the possibilities that were available and provided a clear path on how to get there. Twenty years later, I am teaching in the program that gave me direction right alongside Ken. I get to help people of all ages find their reset button to find their next journey, and I couldn't be happier.

Come visit Waubonsee and see all the amazing paths that may be part of your next journey.

• Guy Tiberio is an associate professor of automotive technology at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove.

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