Student trustee reflects on her Waubonsee experience

My heart is filled with joy whenever I think of my experiences as a student and student trustee at Waubonsee Community College.

I decided to come to Waubonsee Community College because it was close to home, it was affordable, and the nursing program was exceptional. When I started taking my prerequisites, my perspective started to change even more. I met professors who inspired me and challenged me to be a great student and to always strive for higher. One of my fondest memories was when I was taking microbiology with my favorite professor Dr. Sheela Vemu, assistant professor of biology. There was a time when the weather was bad, it was snowing, and we all thought class was going to be canceled. The class was eventually canceled, but not one single student was absent that evening. Vemu received a phone call, and I heard her say, "all my students are here." We knew that to excel in Vemu's class, we had to be in class prepared, we had to take the right notes, we had to interact with our classmates, and there was always a possibility of a pop quiz. She gave us a pop quiz that evening, and we were happy because we believed that our dedication paid off.

My nursing instructors and clinical instructors were on point. One of my first instructors, Christina Cicero, instructor of nursing, taught me critical thinking and the power of flexibility. You have to be able to adapt and quickly adjust as things do change. Monica Smogur, instructor of nursing, taught mental health in such a way that it was easy to understand and comprehend. Joan Bluestone, adjunct faculty, health professions and public service, my mental health clinical instructor, taught me the power of therapeutic communication and mindfulness. Tracy Limbrunner, associate professor of nursing, taught me, among other things, how to make healthier choices and to set realistic goals. Sharon Erickson, assistant professor of nursing, taught me the big picture, understanding the nursing process, and providing holistic care. Sindu Mohan, adjunct faculty, health professions and public service, my clinical instructor, brought out the confidence in me. Even when I was afraid, she was there to support, assist, and coach me while I completed my nursing tasks effectively and efficiently.

As a nursing student, I have enjoyed doing my lab returns in a state-of-the-art nursing lab, I have used the testing center for my exams, and I have also used our tutoring services. Waubonsee has allowed me to do my clinicals at Magnet Hospitals. Magnet Hospitals are the highest recognition for nursing excellence as rated by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Waubonsee has provided me with resources and tools to help me succeed in my nursing program.

My leadership journey started when I received an invitation to apply for the Engaging Leaders Program. I applied and was selected to participate in the prestigious program. Through the Engaging Leaders Program, I was able to define my leadership philosophy.

My leadership philosophy is to encourage the heart by example, empowerment, recognition, integrity, positive energy, and discipline. After completing the program, I knew I was ready to take on a more challenging role. I applied for the Student Trustee position. I went through a meticulous interview process, and on May 15, 2019, I was seated as the Student Trustee of Waubonsee Community College. Through my role as the Waubonsee Student Trustee, I have had the privilege to meet Dr. Christine Sobek, president of the college; the board of trustees; and numerous community leaders. As the Student Trustee, I am the liaison between the Waubonsee board of trustees and the student body. I have participated in the Student Involvement Project, where I took the initiative to speak and encourage my fellow students to join the student government and other college organizations. I was able to convince a couple of students to join the Student Senate. I have participated in community events and represented the school on various occasions. I recently attended the National Legislative Summit, where I connected with Student Trustees, administrators, and legislators from around the country to discuss community college federal legislative priorities. I have even recently published a children's book.

As a leader, I have established myself as an excellent communicator. I have learned that I can win others over through my communication skills, personality, and connectivity to people. It has helped me in establishing bonds with my fellow students and faculty members.

I will always encourage my fellow students to be a part of the Waubonsee Community College community. It has plenty to offer. I often invite friends and family to Waubonsee Community College for events and activities. It is a place where dreams are made. I am proud to say that Waubonsee Community College was my top choice for higher learning. All Waubonsee Community College students win! #waubonseewin

• Angela Nwalie is the former Student Trustee at Waubonsee, a member of the Student Nurse Association, a member of the National Technical Honor Society, and a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success. She was awarded the Marion M. and Les Lester Endowed Scholarships and is the recipient of the Jim and Karen Pilmer Student Trustee Scholarship.

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