Civic engagement at the core of community college mission, values

Posted4/18/2017 7:31 AM

Civic engagement is the cornerstone of a healthy democracy.

As a community college leader, I am inspired to see the fruits of civic engagement unfold not only as we engage within our community, but also as we watch our students transform into leaders on our campuses and within our communities.

The definition of civic engagement is working to make a difference in the life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and nonpolitical processes.

Studies have consistently shown that college students who are engaged in civic activities gain more in terms of ethical development through their contributions to the welfare of their community.

That's why we encourage an understanding and passion for civic engagement in our students. From student government and clubs, to a student seat on our board of trustees, in our classrooms and in our college dialogues, we work hard to give students opportunities to get involved, make a difference, and learn the process.

Another reward of this commitment to civic engagement is watching students transform from casual bystanders to active and aspiring leaders.

Earlier this year, our student senate president addressed her peers during our first New Student Convocation. She explained to them how much her involvement in student senate had helped her to learn not only how to lead and work within a team, but also basic tenets such as Robert's Rules of Order. Perhaps most importantly, the experience has helped broaden her perspective and widen her network.

We are proud of our many student leaders and we are equally proud of our many alumni who exhibit the leadership skills and commitment to civic engagement long after graduation. In addition to active involvement in community organizations and initiatives, Waubonsee alumni serve our communities as public officials in state and local government.

Louis D. Brandeis once said that "the most important political office is that of private citizen." Indeed, he was speaking of civic engagement and its importance. Shaping strong leaders and citizens strengthens our communities and is an investment in our future. At Waubonsee Community College, it is an honor to be part of that process.

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