Plant closing leads to new career for TR woman

June 25, 2012

From “Plant closing leads to new career for TR woman” — GREEN BAY — On Nov. 18, 2009, Linda Eis drove home from her job at the Budweiser plant in Manitowoc – a place she’d worked for the last 28 years – knowing that the future she’d planned for herself and her family would be changed forever. The plant was scheduled to close and she was losing her job.

Nervous and uncertain of her prospects, she drove to Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, poured over the health care program options, and decided on a new future.

Two and half years later, that decision would lead her to graduate from NWTC at the top of her class, becoming a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. She would receive two prestigious national scholarships and emerge with bright prospects for a new career as a certified surgical technologist.

“Coming back to school after all these years, you’re scared,” said Eis, who lives in Two Rivers with her husband. “But the college is very ‘adult-learner-friendly.’ After a while, it started to give me back the confidence that I didn’t know I’d lost.”

Although Eis had been out of school for 32 years, she decided success in the classroom would lead to success in the workforce. She put in extra hours in the lab, studied extensively and focused on her clinical experience. School became her new job, and her instructors took notice.

“I don’t think I have ever worked with a student that had a better attitude and stronger work ethic,” said NWTC instructor Mary C. Wessing. “The operating room is often a stressful place to work, and Linda was able to deal with whatever came her way.”

Eis’s late-career journey mirrors that of many Americans since the start of the recession. In fact, an increasing number of Americans are returning for education later in life. Seventy-eight million baby boomers soon will be entering retirement, and four out of five plan to work past the age of 65. Many of those jobs require updated skills and training. At NWTC, 20 percent of the population served – through degree programs, certificates, basic skills courses or enrichment classes – are more than 50 years old.

When Eis graduated in May with a 4.0 grade point average, she found her hard work had paid off in other ways after being told she’d won two competitive national scholarships. The Foundation for Surgical Technology awarded her $750 for its annual scholarship, and shortly after, the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting chose her as the 2012 recipient of its $500 scholarship.

Eis is still looking toward the future. She’s interviewing for positions in the health care field and is confident that her education has prepared her for success.

“My goal from the start was to get a new job,” she said. “Losing my job [led] to much more, I earned a new profession.”


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