ST. CHARLES – Former St. Charles District 303 School Board President James Gaffney, Jr. had some advice for St. Charles East High School students on how to succeed as a businessman.
"If you're going to get into business, you've got to have motivation and you've got to be dedicated and the dedication is to yourself, because it's not an easy chore," Gaffney Jr. said in answering questions from students in a Leadership Studies class on April 5.
Gaffney Jr. along with Dr. Rachel Kruzan and Marci (Miller) Jobson, are the recipients of District 303's Distinguished Alumni Award for 2019. The award is presented by the district in conjunction with the Distinguished Alumni Award Committee and the St. Charles Education Foundation. It is given to nominees who graduated from District 303 and have demonstrated a high level of achievement in their field of endeavor or in their contributions to their community.
The three were recognized at the St. Charles Education Foundation's Gala on April 6 at the Baker Hotel. Gaffney Jr., who was born and raised in St. Charles, graduated from St. Charles High School in 1965 and started his own electric business.
Dr. Rachel Kruzan, who also was born and raised in St. Charles, graduated from St. Charles North High School in 2004. Kruzan is an internal medicine physician at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland, with a focus in urban health primary care and advocating for underserved populations.
Jobson graduated from St. Charles High School in 1994 where, as a standout soccer athlete, she was named a two-time high school All-American and lead the Saints to two state championships. She now is a women's soccer coach at Baylor University.
In answering a question from a student, Jobson said that to be a good leader, "you have to be steady emotionally and be able to handle really difficult things thrown at you."
And one also needs to be humble, she said.
"When you're doing great and everything is going well for you, [you can't] get too high on your horse," Jobson said. "That's one of the best lessons I learned getting into college."
Kruzan talked to the students about how her residency training gave her the tools needed to become a doctor.
"In residency training, we did 28 hour calls," she said. "You are the main doctor on site in the intensive care unit or on the floor for 28 hours in a row. I did that every third night during my residency. There were times I would be completely physically exhausted and emotionally exhausted as well. I worked in inner city Baltimore, where there was a lot of gun violence and addiction cases. I think the best part of all that was the community I built, the people I could turn to that were on the floors with me along with the community outside of that – my family and friends."
Kane County Circuit Court Judge Clint Hull, chair of the Distinguished Alumni Committee and a 1985 St. Charles High School graduate, helped arrange for the alumni to meet the students and answer their questions. Hull is also a Distinguished Alumni recipient.
The alumni spent the day with the students, including having lunch with them.
"Really, the whole purpose of it is so the students understand that the distinguished alums are just like them," Hull said. "They were in the same seats, taking the same classes, having the same experiences. So we want them to be able to see that anything they put their mind to is achievable."