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Waubonsee Voices: Gustafson Scholarship more than just free tuition

Faith LaShure
Faith LaShure

“Full scholarship” are the two words that college-ready students and their parents dream of hearing. Thanks to Waubonsee Community College’s Gustafson Scholarship, a very fortunate, select group of in-district graduating seniors hear these special words every May.

Over the last 37 years, the program has awarded these scholarships to more than 1,000 students. Each year, one scholarship is granted per 100 students in each in-district high school’s graduating class. These students excel academically and exhibit leadership skills through involvement at their schools and in their communities. They are, indeed, the best and brightest.

This year’s incoming class has 56 students representing 16 area high schools and boasts a cumulative GPA of greater than 3.5. Among them are future doctors, scientists, lawyers and educators, much like Dr. Lucile Gustafson herself.

It was only fitting that the Gustafson name be affixed to a leadership scholarship dedicated to the legacy of shaping the future leaders of our district. The scholarship was created in honor of Dr. Lucile Gustafson, an original member of Waubonsee Community College’s Board of Trustees.

The gift of the Gustafson Scholarship program goes much deeper than free college tuition.

The Gustafson program is dedicated to creating leaders, and so all of the recipients are required to provide service hours and complete a Leadership Studies class. During their time at Waubonsee, they are guided in civic engagement and service by the expertise of staff in the Student Life Office.

Graduating scholar Daniel Small told this year’s incoming class that they are here because someone saw something special in them, and decided they were a worthwhile investment. He told them that their next two years are an opportunity to shape the Waubonsee community. He was right, and what we hope these students will find is that it is also an opportunity to lay the foundation for a lifetime of public service and civic engagement.

The ultimate goal of many of us as educators, especially at the community college level, is to not only help students achieve their academic goals and dreams, but also to shape good residents who give back to their communities so that we may all reap the benefits of the gift of education.

That is why the Gustafson program at Waubonsee is so special, as it empowers us to set up our future leaders for a lifetime of sharing their gifts with our communities. We all benefit from this very special gift and legacy.

• Faith LaShure is dean for enrollment management at Waubonsee Community College.

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