Student Spotlight: Influential Professors Helped Kris Dubenic Discover His Passion in Environmental Science

Kris Dubenic of New Lenox is JJC’s first-ever student sustainability worker. Before attending JJC, Dubenic wasn’t sure what he wanted to study – but thanks to a few influential science professors and some self-exploration, he realized his love of nature and the environment. Below, learn five interesting facts about Dubenic and how he discovered his passion at JJC.

Fact #1: Dubenic’s love of nature and sustainability began at JJC. 

Kris Dubenic, JJC's student sustainability worker

Kris Dubenic, JJC’s student sustainability worker

Dubenic has always loved playing and composing music, but knew he wanted to pursue something else as a career. He chose to attend JJC in 2013 so he could explore other passions – like psychology and environmental science. After taking two science courses, he was sold. Professors John Griffis and Andy O’Neill, Dubenic said, were very influential in his decision to major in environmental science. “What I learned in those professors’ classes really sparked an interest for me in environmental issues,” he said. “I’ve always known about how important taking care of our planet is, but after learning why I should care, it changed everything.”
Fact #2: Working as the college’s student sustainability worker has helped Dubenic receive hands on experience in his field.
Dubenic started working as the college’s student sustainability worker last year. “At first, my job was about recycling. I was the guy lugging around the huge bags of recycleables on campus. It definitely wasn’t glamorous, but I was making a positive impact on the environment,” he said. “Later, the position changed. It evolved into me having more of a voice in environmental programming at the college.” Some of the efforts Dubenic has been involved in include helping to donate more than 250 pounds of pens and markers that had been recycled on campus, and planning Earth Month activities in April.
Fact #3: He’s a vegan.
Dubenic made a choice to become a vegan recently – and much of that choice had to do with what he’s learned in his classes at JJC, as well as his own personal research. “After everything I’ve learned, I just feel a stronger connection with all living things, including animals,” Dubenic said. “I also became a vegan because of the profound and overwhelming amount of overall resources and lives that can be spared. I have always loved nature as well, but never knew before how important our actions were to all things on earth.”
Fact #4: Dubenic wants other students to know that it doesn’t take a lot of effort to lead a more sustainable life.
In addition to being environmentally friendly, the word “sustainability” also means being fiscally responsible and socially inclusive. Dubenic said students can become more sustainable by making small changes, such as shopping at a local farmers market, or taking a sociology class. “A lot of careers now are becoming more integrated with sustainability, not just the careers in the sciences,” Dubenic said.


Fact #5: Thanks to JJC, Dubenic knows what he wants to do with his life. 
Dubenic has come a long way from his days as an undecided major in 2013. Today, he is a soon-to-be JJC graduate. After graduating, Dubenic plans to continue studying environmental science at a four-year-university and eventually work in the field. He may end up doing conservation work, or work in government trying to pass environmental legislation, but he will always remember one thing: JJC is where he discovered his passion.

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