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Local News

WCC featured alumnus leads Kendall County veterans' commission

A résumé that includes the jobs artillery cannoneer, howitzer section chief, county veterans service officer and superintendent of the Veterans Assistance Commission of Kendall County indicates an interesting career. That is the career of Chad Lockman, a 2014 graduate of Waubonsee Community College.

Lockman graduated from West Aurora High School in January 2005, a semester early so he could begin boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

During his eight years in the Marine Corps in the artillery, he served all over the world, including a sea tour with a Marine Expeditionary Unit in 2011 and a deployment to Anbar Province, Iraq, in 2007-08. After his time in the Corps, Lockman returned home to the Aurora area and went to college. He chose Waubonsee Community College.

“Waubonsee awarded me a very generous number of credit hours for training and education I completed while serving in the Marine Corps,” said Lockman.

Strengthening the connection to Waubonsee was the fact that both of his parents attended the college.

Though he was absolutely ready to face college after his time in the military and in combat, as is often the case for non-traditional students going to college for the first time, there was one thing he was not looking forward to: “I dreaded being the old guy in the class.”

He soon found out, though, that there was nothing to worry about. In fact, he found that many students were his age or older and that the instructors understood the different groups in each class and brought them together.

“It was very warm,” Lockman said of the classroom dynamics.

Because of the credit awarded for his military service, Lockman was able to graduate with his Associate in Applied Science in human resource management in just one year while also working as a home remodeler.

He took full advantage of the flexible classes and the network of campuses that Waubonsee offers. He took evening classes at the Waubonsee campuses at Sugar Grove, Aurora Downtown and in Plano.

“I live in Yorkville, so I was looking for classes in Plano,” he said. “It was very convenient.”

Lockman graduated from Waubonsee in 2014 and then went to Western Illinois University in the spring of 2015. He graduated from there in December 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in general studies.

Lockman now gives back to the veteran community that he is a member of. As the superintendent of the Veterans Assistance Commission of Kendall County, he is an advocate for veterans across the county and leads the team that directly helps veterans with benefits and services that are available to them.

The VAC has two full-time and two part-time staff members and must maintain its accreditation with the U.S. Veterans Administration.

“Part of what we do is dispel the rumors about the VA,” said Lockman.

Lockman got the job at the VAC by first applying for a work-study program there while a student at Waubonsee. He was eventually hired as the assistant superintendent and then became the superintendent.

The work is not just a job to Lockman. He knows the importance of the mission of the VAC and works beyond the scope of his job to serve those who have served the country.

The VAC was involved in the effort to make Kendall County a designated Purple Heart County in 2017. One of the results of this project is having a designated parking spot at various county office buildings with a Purple Heart sign. Those signs are more than a marker for a parking space, but an indicator of community support for veterans.

Lockman is also proud of the “Troop Tree” that is on the grounds of the Kendall County Health Department. It is an evergreen tree planted in 2007 that gets decorated with yellow ribbons each year at Christmastime.

His passion for service extends beyond service to veterans. While a student at Western Illinois University, Lockman founded the Kendall County Interagency Council. This council meets monthly and works to minimize redundancy of services for the people of Kendall County and ensure the right and best resources are available to people who need them.

It is made up of several nonprofit organizations from across the county, such as the Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry. This council exists to serve the entire community, not just military veterans. He is also a member of the Kendall-Grundy Community Action Advisory Board.

Even with the global experience he gained while in the Marine Corps, Lockman credits his education with helping him see things differently: “I gained other people’s perspectives in college. It helped me expand my view of things.”

As for his experience at Waubonsee, Lockman is very happy he chose to go there.

“I got a lot more ‘community’ out of the experience,” he said.

He has advice for people thinking of going to college: “Give it a shot. Pick it up. Take a chance.”

Lockman was recognized as a Student Success: Featured Alumnus by the college’s board of trustees at its regularly scheduled board meeting on Aug. 22.

Visit waubonsee.edu/veterans to learn more about options available to veterans at Waubonsee.

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