Local Column

Borowicz: Kishwaukee College celebrating 50 years of alumni

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Laurie Borowicz is the president of Kishwaukee College in Malta.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Kishwaukee College. Over the past couple of months, I have been humbled by the articles and letters that have been written by alumni and friends of the college in support of the 50th anniversary.

The best editorial I can provide this month is an excerpt from a recent article from cnn.com written by Kish alum Melissa Blake, Class of 2002:

“When I started college at 19, I was timid and unsure of the big world ahead of me.

Fast-forward two years later and I felt like a different person: more confident, more self-assured and more determined than ever to pursue a degree in journalism after a high school hobby grew into a full-fledged passion.

The positive changes were remarkable, and I credit much of my transformation to one thing: My education at a community college.

So what exactly does ‘community college’ mean? Many things to many people. Different things to different people. It means a chance for a single parent who works full time to take night classes and work toward a degree.

It means someone who’s retired can experience the excitement of continuing education classes. It means someone fresh out of high school can save money on tuition and explore their options while taking general education classes at a two-year college.

My community college education gave me a solid foundation right from the beginning. It gave me room to grow, to learn about myself and to develop skills – both academic skills and life skills – that I would carry with me even after I left those hallowed halls and found myself in the “real world.” And things like smaller class sizes and more one-on-one interaction with instructors made me realize that solid foundation was unique; I doubt I would have had the same experience if I started at a four-year university right out of high school. 

And I doubt I’d be the writer I am today if it weren’t for the time I spent as a staff writer (and later, editor-in-chief) of my college’s student newspaper. I was able to get hands-on experience in all facets of newspaper production, from writing to interviewing sources to editing to design, as well as learning leadership skills that extended far beyond the classroom.

Maybe that’s why, some six years after I graduated, I found myself walking those old, familiar halls of my community college once again. Only this time, I was no longer a student, but an adjunct faculty member. I was back as the faculty adviser to the student newspaper – yes, the same newspaper I worked on when I was a student. I was training the next generation of student journalists.

In a way, it felt like everything was falling into place just as it should. It felt like everything had come full circle and I was home again.

That is the power and meaning of community college. Because everything I learned in those couple years have molded and shaped me into the person I am today. I’ve carried those lessons with me.

My community college turns 50 this year. Its longevity speaks volumes, as do the memories I’ve carried with me for almost two decades.”

The except is reprinted from CNN.com with permission from the author.

We are proud of the effect Kish has had on the lives of the 23,765 individuals such as Melissa who have received degrees or certificates from Kish over the past 50 years. To read more testimonials from our alumni, or submit one of your own, visit www.kish.edu/50th/testimonials.html.

• Laurie Borowicz is president of Kishwaukee College. She can be reached at 815-825-9333, or by email at lborowicz@kish.edu.