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Emma Soroka: Best years of my life have been at ECC

Emma Soroka

ECC spring 2016 grad Emma Soroka earns full ride to Elmhurst College

I chose to start my college experience at Elgin Community College because I was completely directionless coming out of high school, and I was not particularly ready to leave home yet even though I thought I was.  I decided it would be a better choice to spend some time at home and go to school at ECC while I figure out my major and career path, find my ideal transfer school, prepare to live on my own, mature more, and also save some money by doing general education classes at ECC.  I found that this was one of the best and wisest decisions I've ever made.

Though I knew ECC was the best option for me at the time, I did not want to go to ECC at first.  Some of my best friends from high school went away to school and I did not want to be stuck in Elgin longer than I had to be since I went to high school here as well.  I also felt that there seemed to be a stigma attached to attending community college as opposed to moving away from home to a four-year university right after high school.  I also joined the Honors Program at ECC because I knew I was capable of handling more challenging classes, but I feared that I would be separated from the rest of the student body as an honors student because that is how I felt in high school.

ECC helped me overcome the closed-mindedness I had about a lot of things, and I advise other students to open up their minds to all the possibilities and opportunities that ECC has to offer.  First, community college is not something to be ashamed of and it is still a great step in the right direction for the future.  Just because you do not go to a four-year university right away is not a bad thing.  Second, being in honors classes is one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself as a student, and it does not mean you will be segregated from non-honors students.  Honors students actually talk to each other and get to know each other in class rather than sitting silently in class and only interacting with the professor.  Additionally, honors professors encourage application and discussion rather than solely memorization and lecture.  I learned more as an honors student than I ever thought I would.  Third, just because you go to community college does not mean you need to go there only for class then go home.  One of the best things I ever did for myself was get involved at school by joining clubs.  I was never athletic, so I didn't join sports and I wanted to have something going for me besides only my grades.  Through clubs, you can meet a variety of different people, develop leadership skills that are useful for the future and in the workplace, and realize how many events are going on at ECC besides class.  Fourth, the diversity of people at ECC can help you open your mind.  I came straight out of Catholic school and the diversity of the people at ECC was a shock to me at first.  Not only are there different religions, but also different cultures and age groups as well.  This helps prepare you better for the real world.

They say the best years of your life are in high school, but I argue that the best years are beyond that.  My time at ECC has truly allowed me to grow not only academically, but also as a person and even as a leader, which is something I never thought I could be before.  I've become much more independent, I've met so many different people, and I've realized that everyone has a different story and a different path.  Not everyone is going to be the same age as me or have the same values and beliefs as me but that does not mean we cannot get along.  My mind is open to so many more possibilities and I have developed leadership skills I never knew I had by being involved.  For example, I had to overcome the obstacle of balancing my studies with club business.  Furthermore, I have used my time at ECC to figure out my major and career.  The advisors and the career development services and events have majorly helped me.  Eventually, it just clicked one day after the culmination of help and advice I've received at ECC.  I also used my time at ECC to broaden my options for four-year universities.  Initially, I only looked at North Central College because my dad went there, but I realized my other possibilities and chose what was best for me.  I was excited to choose Elmhurst as my transfer school, and right when I chose to go there, a tremendous scholarship opportunity opened up.  I am now the first recipient of the ECC's Honors Program Full-Tuition Transfer Scholarship for Elmhurst College.  This is the biggest example of the great opportunities that can be available from ECC to students.

Now that I am graduating, I am so proud to have gone to ECC.  One of the biggest obstacles I had to overcome was my closed-mindedness.  Another hardship I faced was balancing school, work, being involved in clubs, and my social life.  I had to learn how to work with a team and how to say no to my friends when I should be studying.  I needed to adjust my work schedule to fit around school and learn not to work so much that I never had time for school.  Nevertheless, the things I learned at ECC will resonate with me for the rest of my life, and I will never forget my time at ECC.

~ Emma Soroka, Streamwood


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