Diesel Technician students land jobs before graduation

May 17, 2013

From chippewa.com: “Diesel Technician students land jobs before graduation” — EAU CLAIRE — Jason Koger of Elk Mound didn’t have any problem finding a job, and right in his home town, after graduating from Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) on Friday, May 10. In fact, he was working at the Lawrence Transportation Services facility in Chippewa Falls while still completing the Diesel/Heavy Equipment Technician program at CVTC.

His fellow graduate, Josh Gagner of Chetek, also landed a job well before graduation, at the Lawrence facility in Barron.

Koger’s and Gagner’s experience is typical of students in the program. A shortage of diesel mechanics in the area has companies recruiting CVTC students well before they earn their technical diplomas.

“I was always interested in diesel engines,” said Koger. “I liked the smoke, but I learned that’s not the power.”

“I wanted to drive (trucks) at first,” said Gagner. “But when (CVTC instructors) talked to me about fixing them instead of driving them, I was sold.”

Gagner had been working relocating utility lines, but decided to look for a job with a little less stress. He loves diesel mechanic work and sees himself working in the field his entire life. There’s plenty of opportunity.

“I had two job offers and I only applied for two jobs,” Gagner said.

“I didn’t have any problem getting into Lawrence,” Koger said.

Most CVTC graduates are not as heavily recruited as the Diesel/Heavy Equipment Technician students, but statistics show 92 percent of them will be employed or continuing their education in the coming months.

Defining moments

CVTC honored 626 graduates in 47 different programs Friday night, with 375 graduates receiving associate degrees and 251 receiving technical diplomas. On Thursday night, CVTC honored 67 graduates at its River Falls campus, including 60 receiving associate degrees and seven receiving technical diplomas.

The most popular programs among this spring’s graduates are Nursing, with 60 graduates, Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement with 54 graduates, and Business Management with 53.

Among the graduates was Randi Johnson of Eau Claire, in the Dental Hygienist program, who was chosen as the student speaker. She urged the graduates to get out of their comfort zones.

“Being willing to step out of our comfort zones led us here,” she said. “Now that we’ve gotten to this point in life, we should push ourselves to keep improving. We will feel uncomfortable in the future, whether it’s in an interview for our dream job or buying our first house. But the moments where we feel unsure usually turn out to be the ones that change our lives and help define who we are.”

Faculty speaker Steve Chronis, from the Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement program, urged graduates to take advantage of opportunities.

“Life is all about deciding to answer the door when opportunity knocks and what you decide to do with the opportunity,” Chronis said. “My hope for each and every one of you is that the education you received at CVTC has opened a door of opportunity for promise and discovery that will last a lifetime.”

Featured speaker Paul Gabriel, executive director of the Wisconsin Technical College District Boards Association, put a new twist on the notion of wishing graduates “good luck.”

“For years, I’ve heard graduates refer to themselves as ‘lucky’ to have made it here,” he said. “But, what’s luck really got to do with it?  … If you feel fortunate to be here, it’s not luck at all. It’s the success that you have created for yourself.”

Gabriel told the graduates to make their own fortune. “You make it by realizing your potential, by living and thriving and being happy.”


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