From chippewa.com: “Obstacles don’t stop CVTC grad” — Scott Steenerson still isn’t sure he should have graduated from high school. Struggles in reading and math due to learning disabilities resulted in poor grades. But that was back in 1997. On Thursday, July 24, he graduated from Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) as a top student in the Manufacturing Engineering Technologist program, a member of the College’s honor society, and the student speaker for the commencement ceremony.

Steenerson was one of 129 graduates to receive degrees and diplomas in 26 different programs in CVTC’s summer graduating class. Welding and Radiography programs had the most graduates, with 17 each, followed by Diagnostic Medical Sonography with 16.

Last spring, Steenerson received both the achievement and leadership awards among all Manufacturing Engineering Technologist students. He was the only one scheduled for summer graduation.

It’s not as if Steenerson’s learning disabilities magically disappeared since his days at Elk River, Minn. High School, but he learned to deal with them and got the help he needed at CVTC.

“In high school, they didn’t have a lot of programs that helped with it,” Steenerson said. “There were a handful of classes I did pretty well in, but I think that had a lot to do with good teachers.”

Steenerson ended up settling in Hammond and holding a well-paying job at Andersen Windows. “I had a couple of people at Andersen who took me under their wings, and I started to catch on to things better,” he said. “That gave me the opportunity to work with the manufacturing engineers.”

When he became a victim in large layoff, two weeks after his second child was born, Steenerson knew he’d have to do better in the future to support a family of four. Eligibility for a federal program for displaced workers allowed him to enroll at CVTC. He started off scared.

“Considering my grades in high school, I was really concerned about whether I could pull off college-level classes,” Steenerson said. He had two tough ones right away in chemistry and math. “I was extremely nervous. Looking at the other students, half of them seemed young enough to be my kids.”

But Steenerson says he had two great teachers, Ron Keyes in chemistry and Dave Vollmer in math, who knew about his learning disabilities and gave him the extra help he needed. Steenerson also got help from the CVTC’s Academic Services Center. Success followed.

“When I got my final grades, I shocked myself, particularly in my math class, where I got an A when I had struggled so much in high school.”

More success followed. On Vollmer’s recommendation, Steenerson became a math tutor. When he started his program courses in manufacturing, Instructor Tom Vanderloop drew him into the student chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, where he rose to a leadership position. Twice he represented CVTC with other team members at international competitions and was the team leader in one.

His exposure to lean manufacturing at Andersen Windows made him a valuable student. Instructor Hans Mikelson would bring him in to help with workshops on the subject.

Steenerson explained that, knowing his limitations, he was never hesitant to ask for help. When he got it, he shared it. “I’d grab some of the other students and explain it to them and we’d work out problems together.” Steenerson helped in efforts to extend tutoring programs to CVTC’s Gateway campus.

In addressing his fellow graduates, Steenerson said he feels a sense of sadness leaving CVTC because it has made such a difference in his life. “I’ve loved every one of the instructors I’ve had at CVTC,” he said.

Steenerson is already getting some job offers, but he’s hoping to lands something close to his current home and at a company where he can work to improve manufacturing procedures.

Like Steenerson, faculty speaker Jon Leenhouts had high praise for the teachers he learned from in his life. “Over time, I’ve remained interested in my own career, and have actively kindled new opportunities and have been willing to try new things – because of the type of teachers I’ve been fortunate to have had,” said Leenhouts, an award-winning trainer and consultant with CVTC’s Business & Industry team.

Commencement speaker Kathy Otto, medical assembly operations manager at Phillips Medisize, spoke of the skills gap with a different perspective. She told of a recent meeting with CVTC and business community leaders to identify training needs in the community.

“But in the end, one man stood up and summed up the gap for the entire business group: ‘We just want people that care – care!’ Every business leader in the room immediately agreed,” Otto said.

From madison.com: “Q & A: Madison College providing ‘direct line’ to jobs, says president Jack Daniels” — Last summer Madison College (Madison Area Technical College or MATC) welcomed a new president, Jack Daniels, to lead the community of 40,000 students after the retirement of former president Bettsey Barhorst.

A psychologist by training, Daniels led community colleges in Los Angeles, Springfield, Ill., and Houston before landing his current job. In Madison, he is tasked with addressing sharp cuts in state aid to technical schools as well as new state mandates that tie technical college funding to a variety of measures, including the rate at which their graduates find employment.

Why might somebody seeking a bachelor’s degree go to MATC and then transfer to a four-year college? Why not just go directly to the four-year institution?

Sometimes the transition for high school students to a system that is very large is challenging. UW has large classes; they’re basically auditoriums. Students don’t get the one-on-one interaction that they would at MATC. It eases them into that transfer ability.

And then for returning adults — our average age is 29 — it’s an opportunity for them to ease back into that 4-year grind, to understand where their strengths are and their weaknesses. Especially for people who come from a low-income background, where the affordability goes hand in hand with accessibility.

It seems like a lot of that could just be criticism of our higher education system in general, the high price of four year colleges, the large class sizes.

I don’t want to call it a criticism because they have their own resource issues and challenges. Those are research institutions and their cost of running is much greater than ours. But it is no different from across the country. In fact, in California, there will be a 5-to-1 difference in a unit cost between a four year institution and a community college there. It is not as drastic here.

Do many Madison College students just seek a liberal arts Associate’s degree without intending to transfer for a Bachelor’s degree?

Normally students doing a liberal arts Associate’s are seeking to transfer. I haven’t seen cases where that would not be happening.

What are typical Associate’s degrees that you’d get if you’re not planning to transfer to get a Bachelor’s degree?

Well, I go back to my 60 percent of students in the trades. Automotive technician, diesel equipment technician… these are normally not transfers. It’s difficult, because many of these degrees can’t transfer to programs at four-year institutions.

But take an Associate’s degree in advanced manufacturing. Now I could very well transfer to the school of engineering, however, what (Madison College has) developed are career pathways, so as soon as I complete my (degree) in advanced manufacturing I can actually go to work in a manufacturing company. I think the same thing holds true for health. You can transfer to get your Bachelor’s degree in nursing, but you can also go to work with that Associate’s degree in nursing. Same thing for respiratory therapy, physical therapy and all the health areas.

Do you think that focus on careers is lacking at four-year institutions?

I’d probably be a little disadvantaged to speak about that. I haven’t been at a four-year institution in many years.

But an interesting thing here, with many liberal arts degrees, students can’t get jobs once they get their baccalaureate. They’re coming back to MATC after getting their baccalaureate. We have a high number of baccalaureate graduates who are coming to get further training to go to work. We have a high number of graduates from UW-Madison who are coming to get a paralegal degree. Same thing with biotechnology. And then we have those relationships with those (biotech) companies, like ProMega, so you have direct line to those areas.

Is there enough funding for technical colleges in this state?

(Laughs) There’s never enough funding for them. We’re experiencing a different type of funding now. Our funding will be more dependent on the state than property tax dollars. But you never have enough resources. It causes us to look at our priorities. Where do we shift dollars? We try to supplement that with grants and we also have substantial support from our foundation, especially with regards to scholarships for our students.

Does the foundation get most of its support from individuals, including alumni, or more from other nonprofit organizations?

The latter. We don’t have an alumni association. That’s one of the goals we have for the next year, to develop that. Because I’m quite sure that the number of students who have gone to MATC — and I’ve talked to a number of them in the past week — say, “Without MATC, we wouldn’t be here.” You hear these stories over and over again.

Talk to me about the new performance-based funding that has been mandated by the state.

In the first year, which starts July 1, there is a certain funding set aside and 10 percent of that is based on performance. There are nine (performance) categories and among them we will select seven of them on which we will be measured. In the next biennium it will go to 20 percent (based on performance) and then the following year it will go to 30 percent.

We’re confident in those categories. We do very well.

Do you think this performance-based funding is a good development?

I think there’s a necessity to have some level of accountability. If you think about it as a true developmental model, if you have a school that is not performing, what types of interventions do you make to make sure it is performing? But I think the 10, 20, 30 model is good. I wouldn’t want to see it go much higher than that.

But if a school is under-performing, how is cutting its funding going to improve it?

That’s a good question. I would think there would have to be some other guidelines set for how long do you get that funding. I don’t think you can cut it off immediately.

We are continually looking at what we do. But one of the things the formula doesn’t account for is transfers. It is purely based on technical trades and related outcomes from that.

So it’s not assessing 40 percent of your student body? Is that a flaw?

I think there are a few colleges in the state that believe there need to be some modifications to account for that.

 

From htrnews.com: “LTC a vital part of local educational mix” — The Lakeshore area features many unique educational opportunities. There are public and parochial schools, specialty schools, charter schools, two-year colleges and four-year universities.

Between now and June 8, hundreds of students of all ages will graduate from these institutions of learning, or at least advance to the next grade level. Many already have done so and have either begun searching for a job or are enjoying summer vacation — or both.

One area school is so unique that it required three separate graduation ceremonies to accommodate its students. Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland held — on three separate dates — a “regular” college graduation ceremony, one for about 60 GED/HSED students and a banquet recognizing 29 students in the school’s apprenticeship program.

In apprenticeship programs, workers earn while they learn the practical and theoretical aspects of highly skilled occupations. LTC’s registered apprentices are sponsored by employers and paid hourly wages to attend LTC in their specific trades.

LTC also offers unique programs unavailable at other schools in the area, including hazardous materials training, dairy herd management, nuclear technology and many others.

Studies have shown Lakeshore area schools are doing a good job in training young people for the next steps along their way. Test results are generally good at the grade school and high school levels, and opportunities for quality higher education abound.

LTC is an option more families are turning to as the costs of higher education skyrocket. The school has a solid track record of placing graduates in jobs, often exceeding 90 percent in certain fields. About 87 percent of the 550 graduates this year will find jobs in the Lakeshore area, a not insignificant number when many local employers complain of “brain drain” and a lack of skilled workers to fill their open positions.

Yet LTC often is overlooked during graduation season because its students don’t receive “real,” four-year degrees or gain the academic accolades other institutions often bestow. That is a mistake.

Hundreds of local employers and employees make solid contributions to the local economy because of past and present ties to LTC. Many of the school’s graduates are working in local jobs that likely would go unfilled without the influence of LTC and its programs.

We are thankful for all of the quality educational opportunities our area has to offer — from preschool to graduate school. It takes variety to provide this kind of quality, and we hope that Lakeshore Technical College is recognized as a vital player in that mix.

From htrnews.com: “LTC honors graduates during commencement events” – Lakeshore Technical College concluded three separate graduation ceremonies this week with a college ceremony, a GED/HSED ceremony and an apprenticeship banquet. With 87 percent of graduates traditionally remaining in the Lakeshore area to live and work, the nearly 550 graduates from these LTC programs will enrich their local communities with the skills and values learned during their time at LTC, according to a press release from the school.

The LTC Commencement ceremony was held at the Cleveland campus on Saturday. The GED/HSED ceremony occurred on Sunday with nearly 60 students completing their high school credential. Retiring General Education and Pre-College Dean Lynn Retzak was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by LTC staff during the ceremony.

In Saturday’s ceremony, graduate Alex Booher, of Whitelaw, delivered remarks as the student speaker. Booher, a graduate of the Hotel and Hospitality program, talked about the motivation and passion needed to achieve dreams and the events that shaped his dream, the release stated.

Completing the graduation series was the apprenticeship banquet at Millhome in Kiel. Twenty-nine apprenticeship participants were recognized by keynote speaker Kari Krull, Career and Technical Education coordinator and Manitowoc County Youth Apprenticeship coordinator for the Manitowoc School District. The student speaker was Kyle Schisel of Manitowoc, a carpentry apprentice with Bartow Builders.

Also participating in the college graduation ceremony was keynote speaker Reggie Newson, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

From wisopinion.com: “A vision for 21st century tech colleges” – By Rebecca Kleefisch – We should celebrate our sons and daughters who become nursing assistants and machinists just as much as those who become lawyers and doctors. That was my message this weekend at Waukesha County Technical College’s commencement ceremony, when hundreds of students walked across the stage and stepped into new careers and new opportunities.

Governor Walker said the same thing this past January in his State of the State address. He and I know that the twin drivers of our state’s economy are manufacturing and agriculture. Both of those industries rely heavily on technical colleges for expertise and employees. A strong Wisconsin economy needs strong tech colleges in every part of the state, staffed by top-notch teachers and filled with cutting-edge technology. Our tech colleges are a good investment for students, a good partner for employers, and a good value for taxpayers.

The students graduating from WCTC are entering into careers offering the promise of prosperity. An associate’s degree graduate in Aircraft Electronics can get jobs with a starting salary of $47,000. A one-year technical diploma in brick-laying and masonry leads to jobs with a median starting salary of almost $43,000. A dental hygiene grad starts with a salary just shy of $50,000. In fact, for the past 15 years, the tech colleges have placed at least 86 percent of their graduates into jobs within six months of graduation. In other words, tech colleges are equipping our workers with the skills they need to get the high-paying jobs they want and the economy offers.

One reason these jobs pay so well is because our Wisconsin employers are actively searching for employees with the skills and experience to fill jobs across our economy, especially in our agriculture, health care, and manufacturing sectors. It’s vitally important that technical colleges gear their services to the jobs available in their communities today and in the future. That’s why I was so impressed by the Fab Lab at Gateway Tech, for instance, which offers itself as a resource to students, faculty, and local manufacturers to try new ideas and products.

Tech colleges need to stay connected to both the community and to the state as a whole. The Governor’s Blueprint for Prosperity, which invested the state’s $911 million surplus, included $406 million in property tax relief through the tech colleges. At Madison Area Technical College, for instance, state funding jumped from 10 percent to nearly half of MATC’s budget. With the property tax caps in place, that will drop MATC’s local tax levy by almost half, saving the owner of an average Madison home about $200.

We need to continue investing in our technical colleges because of the crucial role they play in our communities and our economy. For instance, given all the technical advances discovered by our tech college staff and students, I’d like to see new programs that help commercialize these innovations as new products and processes for use in business.

My address at WCTC on Saturday was my 37th stop at a technical college since taking office. All those visits reflect the high priority that Governor Walker and I place on our tech colleges. Commencement provides each of us, as friends, family, and neighbors of the graduates, an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments and to appreciate their new careers building a stronger Wisconsin.

From jsonline.com: “MATC student conquers brain injuries, limitations to graduate” — By Karen Herzog – There must be a reason why she survived two major head injuries decades apart, says Roane Simkin, who will walk across a stage Wednesday with her service dog, Ice, to accept two associate degrees from Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Simkin, 53, is adapting to what her body and brain can no longer do.

At age 22, she had to learn again how to stand, walk and do many other basic things most take for granted after a horse she was riding reared up, fell on top of her, and rolled over her. After a rehab and healing period of about nine years, Simkin rebounded as much as possible.

But then she suffered another head injury at age 46 when a motorist plowed into the back of her Saab while she was stopped at a red light.

“The weird thing isn’t that this happened to me,” she says. “It’s that I keep walking away. Obviously, I’m here for something.”

Simkin will be among more than 1,400 MATC graduates who will receive degrees during a commencement ceremony at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the U.S. Cellular Arena. Walking across the stage will mean more to her than the average graduate.

Doctors told her after her first brain injury that if she hadn’t been a well-trained dancer before her accident, she likely never would have walked again.

“Your brain reboots when you have a brain injury — how you process information and interact with the world,” she explained of the recovery process.

Simkin already has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and English, and a master’s degree in human factors engineering — “literally the study of work,” she said. She enjoyed a lucrative consulting career as a human factors/ergonomics engineer — also known as business analyst — before her 2007 car accident, she said.

Through her studies the past three years at MATC, she has figured out how to still do the work she enjoys — helping people better interact with software and other technology — but in a different way.

She can no longer travel as a contractor because of mobility challenges and an inability to function well under fluorescent lights because they interfere with her ability to receive, process, recall and share information. So she has developed new skills such as web design that she can use without having to travel from workplace to workplace and deal with the lights.

Simkin double-majored at MATC in individualized technical studies and visual communications, also known as interactive media. The individualized technical studies program is customized to meet specific educational needs not served by other degree programs, combining skills and knowledge from different disciplines.

Wisconsin’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation helped her get back on her feet by paying for her education, she said.

“It behooves people who have disabilities,” Simkin said. “Do the mourning you have to do, get over it and start to do something. Use what you have. Start with what you want to do and figure out whether there is another way to do it.”

She doesn’t have the luxury of looking for a dream job when she graduates.

“I have to ask, ‘Will you accommodate my disability so I’m not in so much pain,'” she said, referring to headaches and confusion she experiences when she works in a room with fluorescent light. At school, Simkin wears a hat in classrooms with that type of lighting. Natural light from windows poses no issues.

Simkin is excited about the prospects of continuing to do the type of work she loves.

“I like putting information together that empowers people,” she said, adding that she may explore teaching at a community college at some point.

She joined MATC’s student government to regain social skills she lost after her 2007 accident. She’s the outgoing district governor for the state student government, an association of all 16 technical colleges in Wisconsin. She also works as a tutoring associate and develops websites for MATC.

Simkin lost part of her temporal lobe, including muscle memory for balance and orienting, so her service dog, Ice, helps her with both. The rugged Anatolian shepherd dog also helps her walk on ice and snow, and carries things for her in a bag.

She has trouble adding long strings of numbers, which never was a problem before the 2007 accident. While working as an executive assistant prior to the accident, she could keep track of $30 million in a business, she said.

“To have had it and lost it is devastating,” she said.

Her body and different parts of her brain were affected by the second head injury. But ironically, she regained some abilities after the car accident, like “imagining forward” to do technical writing, which she struggled with after the first accident, she said. She also regained muscle memory to cook, which she couldn’t do after the horseback-riding accident, she said.

“One theory of memory is we retain everything; we just can’t access it under certain circumstances. I lost abilities, some of which I was able to reroute. It was like going through a maze. After two major brain injuries, I just remember what I can.”

From wsau.com: “College graduation week features NTC, UWSP Saturday” – Several colleges are having their graduation ceremonies Saturday.

One of them is Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, where Sean Sullivan says the students have been doing more than classroom work to get ready for the job market.  “A lot of our graduates have really been active in taking advantage of the services that we offer to prepare to go out into the workforce, so it’s not only about the classes, but it’s about the extra things that we can offer them like leadership development, job skills training, those soft skills that employers are looking for.”

The NTC graduation is held at Wausau West High School starting at 10:00 a.m. Sullivan says just over half of the graduates will take part in the ceremony.  “NTC is going to be graduating almost 800 students this semester, and of those, I’d say about 475 will be at the graduation ceremony.”

Some of the NTC grads are the first virtual college Associate Degree graduates for the school, having taken most of their classes online.

The University of Wisconsin Stevens Point also has commencement Saturday, with both a morning session and an afternoon session to send 1,427 graduates on to their next step.

Mid-State Technical College had their graduation Thursday evening, but they have something else to celebrate. Their new Stevens Point facility is ready, and they’ve begun moving in. The college acquired the former Penney’s wing of the Centerpoint Marketplace mall, and they expect to be done moving in early next week.

UW Marathon County had their graduation Wednesday.

 

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