a community engagement initiative of Momence CUSD #1
Having dreams and setting goals is the first step on the path to success. The next step is to put in the hard work required to achieve those goals, and turn dreams into reality. Actor, producer, and former professional wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is quoted as saying, “Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.
By Erica Loos
Momence High School senior Kaylee VanSwol has quite a few irons in the fire and is no stranger to hard work. She devotes a great deal of her time to academics, as she has been taking classes at Kankakee Community College in addition to her regular high school classes. “I’m doing all of my gen eds right now, that way I don’t have to worry about it when I get into the nursing program,” she said. Kaylee is looking to get her Associate’s Degree in nursing from KCC, then plans to continue on to earn a degree as a nurse practitioner. She got the idea of taking classes at KCC from a former classmate. “I know a girl last year who I was friends with did it, and she liked it too. So I thought I would try it and … I’m liking it so far. It feels nice to know that I’m going to be ahead. Even if it’s hard,” she said.
Kaylee has been in the Momence Community Unit School District for all of her schooling, and seems to have a great appreciation for her time here. “You pretty much know everyone. It doesn’t feel awkward saying ‘Hi’ to people in the hallway, because ya know, you know everyone here. And you know all the teachers, and they know you, so that’s nice to have the close connections and everything,” she said. “I feel like the teachers do go out of their way to make sure you get the help you need,” she added.
Kaylee specifically mentioned the help she received from one teacher, Mrs. Barnett. “She really helped me a lot, with everything, not even just school. Like, emotions and everything. … She helped me with my first English class at KCC. She had templates for different essays that she let me use to try to figure it out,” Kaylee recalled.
If given the opportunity to do anything differently in her time in school, she could only think of one thing. “Don’t procrastinate as much,” she said with a chuckle. Most of us know the feeling, and have done our fair share of procrastination in our lives. Kaylee didn’t let that bad habit get in the way of doing well in school, though. “I mean, I still got good grades. It’s just, I would stay up late to get those good grades instead of doing it ahead of time,” she explained “Like, I could have been sleeping when I’m doing homework,” she said with a regretful laugh.
Procrastination aside, we’ve all had something happen in our lives that has knocked us back on our heels, and caused us to regroup and try again. For Kaylee, that was a recent exam grade in her anatomy and physiology class that she felt she could have done better on. “I’m in A&P II right now … at KCC. And that is really hard. I was not really happy with my first exam. Like, I cried for maybe two hours. But, I then realized I could do better. So I started to study more. I picked up different study habits, and tried new things, and it’s gotten better since then,” she recalled.
In addition to her schoolwork, Kaylee enjoys playing a variety of sports. She has been playing softball since she was in first grade, and she plays on the basketball and volleyball teams as well. And spending time with her best friend, Haylie, is something that is very important to Kaylee as well. Having good friends and teachers, being a member of a team and a great community like Momence has taught Kaylee many valuable lessons – among them, kindness. She said if she could make one change in the world it would be to, “forget about the hate. Just all come together, stay together, and not bring each other down so much.” Well said, Kaylee, well said, indeed.