The people at Sauk were there for me, not just for the education, but they gave me a belief in myself.
A good education is vitally important to Sauk Valley Community College Alumnus Dr. David Warner. However, a good education is not the only thing he feels he got from SVCC.
Along the way in David’s life, he had come to believe that he was not capable of seeking a degree in higher education. He says he was raised on an Illinois farm in an atmosphere of ignorance and unawareness, but not stupidity. He says it took him a long time to understand the difference.
Straight out of high school in 1984. Warner began at Sauk Valley Community College taking criminal justice classes with Linda Giesen.
"She was one of the first people to say to me, ‘you can do this.’ I had never heard that before,” said Warner. “Deep down, I thought I was worthwhile and had ability, but no one else had ever seen it so you start to doubt yourself.”
Warner’s grades were decent, but not stellar. At that time, he was not confident that higher education was for him. He recalled that he just graduated from high school, didn’t know what he wanted to do, came to Sauk for a short time without the right attitude, and got into the world and worked.
"I worked at a meat packing plant and some other odd jobs. By the time I was done everyday I couldn’t walk across the floor because my feet hurt so badly,” Warner remembers. “I tried for other good jobs that I thought I could do if someone would just give me a chance. No chance came and my hopes and dreams were turned to fears and nightmares. I was forced to realize I needed training to give me the skills to succeed.”
So, like many Sauk students, Warner returned to Sauk as an adult, only this time with a newfound determination to get an education. It was this second time around where he met people who believed in him, and Warner says that changed everything. He studied hard. He swallowed his pride and asked for help when he needed it, applied to be a part of Sauk’s Student Support Services program, willingly took lower level classes to build a strong foundation, and spent time in the College’s Learning Assistance Center. There, the staff helped Warner fill in what he calls missing features -- concepts he never understood -- then helped him build those features and concepts into a whole.
"Because I was given the help and shown a few key things that I had missed, I could take the new information and run with it. It’s almost like having a master builder who lacks certain tools, but once (the builder) is given those tools, it’s only up to aspiration, inspiration, and drive,” explained Warner. “Once I was given those missing tools and saw that people believed in me, the drive was there.”
That drive along with his new self-confidence took Warner a long way. Graduating with high honors from SVCC in July 1994, Warner matriculated to Northern Illinois University to major in biology (pre-med emphasis) with aspirations of becoming a medical doctor. Close to graduation, however; Warner had a revelation.
"Near graduation I spoke to a young woman who said she was going to be a doctor of chiropractic and that was like a revelation,” remembered Warner. “I had been to chiropractors all my life and they had really helped me. I had had a terrible problem in my youth to where I could hardly function. So, when my wife and I discussed it, it just didn’t seem like the medical route was the way to go, so, I did an about-face and applied to Palmer (School of Chiropractic).”
So with his bachelor’s degree in hand and the confidence that he could do most anything that he desired, Warner headed to Davenport, Iowa to the Palmer College of Chiropractic.
"It was the first realization that ignorance was not stupidity and that nurturing and guidance can be a catalyst to spark self-awareness that made me realize I could do it. Then I was able to strive to a higher level and my vision grew, until I arrived on a stage in Davenport, Iowa to receive my Doctor’s degree.”
Currently, Warner has his own chiropractic practice in Dixon, a fact he is very proud of. He says his journey has taught him a lot about how to treat others and this is reflected not only in his practice, but his life in general.
"It gave me a big wake up call as far as how you treat people. People often have a potential that may have always been there. It is important not to pigeon hole them into anything,” explains Warner. “Back in high school, I had some people tell me things that really led me to believe there wasn’t much hope for me. There may be others who have been told similar things. It’s important to be a catalyst, to take someone who has not been encouraged, told they couldn’t do it, that they didn’t have the background, and help that person turn around.”“The people at Sauk were there for me, not just for the education, but they gave me a belief in myself. They planted an idea -- a powerful idea -- that I could do anything I put my mind to. That was the biggest thing I got from Sauk.”