Nicolas Uecker has been selected the winner of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA) Paul Simon Student Essay Contest at Kishwaukee College. Uecker, Genoa, received a certificate and $500 toward his Spring 2018 tuition and fees from the Board of Trustees at their monthly meeting held April 10. Uecker’s essay will now be entered in the statewide competition to possibly earn an additional stipend to be used toward Fall 2018 educational expenses.
The Paul Simon Essay Contest is held annually. Each community college in the state of Illinois is invited to hold the essay competition for its students, select the best essay submitted at their school, and forward that essay to the state-level competition. The essays submitted are required to be no more than 500-words on the topic How My Community College Changed My Life. If his essay is selected as the statewide winner, Uecker will be invited to the annual ICCTA Conference in June.
Uecker crafted his essay on his choice to attend community college was the best decision because it allowed him to have the opportunity to mature and become a more confident student. Essays were juried by members of the Kishwaukee College English department.
Pictured, L to R, are: Dr. Laurie Borowicz, President of Kishwaukee College; Nicolas Uecker; and Robert Johnson, Chair of the Kishwaukee College Board of Trustees.
Nicolas Uecker's winning essay:
How My Community College Has Changed My Life
“Where are you going to school in the Fall?” was a question I was asked over and over again. The answer I gave was always the same “I think I will end up going to Kishwaukee Community College” and it was usually generated a similar response: “Good for you” or “That’s a smart decision”. The funny thing about those generic responses is the people uttering them had no idea how right they were.
No high school senior wants to acknowledge that they are just not ready, mature enough or possess a desire to be off on their own. I certainly was one of them. It took a lot of soul searching to know what was right for me and how to make the most responsible decision for myself. Community College might not be flashy, but it sure is smart. I’ve seen friend after friend go off to a four year college because that’s they thought they were supposed to do, but ended up coming back home. I knew deep down that I could end up being one of those kids. When I say “kids”, I mean just that. I still felt like a kid. I’ve lived at home with my family my entire life and then I graduated high school and everything in my life could be drastically different overnight if that’s what I wanted. The simple fact was that it wasn’t what I wanted or what I was ready for.
Kishwaukee College changed my life by giving me time. It may not sounds exciting, but it meant everything to me because it prepared me to take the first steps into my future in a way I knew a four year school couldn’t. I entered as a high school kid and evolved into a responsible young adult at a pace that was comfortable for me. It allowed me the time I needed to grow, not only as a person but as a student. The professors and inviting environment made me feel accepted and comfortable, two things I needed before I could allow myself to learn. I am now a confident student, unafraid to ask questions, make new friends, share my thoughts and have educated discussions. I’ve learned to seize the opportunity the experience of being a Kishwaukee College student gave me, so that I could develop a clear vision for my future. I am now goal oriented, organized, ambitious and motivated to strive for educational success. This experience didn’t force me to grow up, it allowed me the time I needed to transition from a high school kid to a college student. I now am excited for what the future holds. I no longer fear the changes that are to come, I’m ready to embrace them.