Continuing Education helps you never stop learning

February 21, 2012

From “How to: Never Stop Learning” —  There’s a lot of merit in youthful curiosity. Those days of repeatedly demanding Why? to our parents, of exploring the right-side and underside of every object in the backyard—it’s something we should never give up just because we’ve finished school and settled into adulthood.

We owe it to ourselves to never stop learning. And we found just the girl who happens to agree (quite exuberantly).

“It is never too late and you are never too old to learn!” exclaimed Christine Schillinger, continuing education coordinator at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC). “We have women of all ages in all stages of their lives taking classes for all different kinds of reasons.”

Indeed, NWTC has literally thousands of professional and personal enrichment courses (thanks in large part to Schillinger), from Communication and Writing to Electrician Certification to Furniture Refinishing. Classes are available either online, in-person, through video conferencing or in NWTC’s self-paced learning labs. And they’re offered basically any time you could hope for—in the evening, on weekends, once a week or sometimes even in the middle of the night—because darn it, shift workers should be able to learn freely, too.

It seems they’ve thought of everything for a busy woman’s lifestyle. But beyond what they have and what they do, it’s most important to focus on the why. Why should you make time to learn?

“The benefits of continuous learning are endless. Professional women can benefit by taking a class to help them stay current in their field or get that promotion,” she said. “Staying current and fresh by learning new skills and developing yourself benefits the community, your family, your employers, your employability, your marketability in today’s workforce and your opportunities.”

The professional incentive is clear. Yet it’s the personal element in learning that stirs Christine’s soul. Like when a busy mom gives herself permission to take a Personal Fitness Trainer class. Or when a wine enthusiast takes it upon himself to take a wine-making course, despite his friends’ taunts. The reason behind all of this—whether you want professional development or certification or mind blowing personal enrichment—is to help you explore more of your amazing potential. And to dare to dream.

It’s certainly inspired Christine, who’s dabbled in digital photography and soon, video production. But it’s her passion for food that’s lead to great things. A few culinary courses was all it took to skyrocket her kitchen confidence, which she now uses to improve the lives of others.

“What drives me to learn something new and better myself is my passion to better the lives of other people. For example, I use my newfound cooking skills to make meals for the Freedom House and the House of Hope. Two years ago, I decided to take my love for cooking and entertaining to host what I call Blessings Parties at my home. I choose a different non-profit organization to BLESS, and then invite friends asking them to bring a donation for that organization. We have wine and I cook for everyone!”

Christine also volunteers for ASPIRO and has helped coordinate their Fall Dinner Gala for the past six years. So we know she wasn’t just learning about meringue in that classroom. She learned to believe in her ability to make a difference in this world. And isn’t that what we all crave, deep down?

It comes down to this—it doesn’t matter where or how we learn, whether through NWTC or a community art class or a how-to video on YouTube. It just matters that you still desire to learn. That desire leads to a more thoughtful, inspired you—along with more thoughtful, inspired people around you. And that is a beautiful thing.

“Working in education is so rewarding because each day brings a new opportunity to see how one class could help change a person’s life, fulfill their dream or help them discover a new interest! I have been inspired, overwhelmed with joy, encouraged and humbled many ways by so many people throughout my career here at the college.”


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