From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Giving back through flowers” — In a time of uncertainty, the Lions Clubs local to Kewaunee County helped Cathei Mincheski and her fiance, Russ Naze, with Naze’s medical bills when he was diagnosed with cancer. More than a year has gone by and Mincheski finds herself working to give back to the community that helped her.

Now facing graduation from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s Leadership Development Program on May 9, Mincheski is finishing part of her coursework, which involves a “capstone project” that must encompass service learning.

She decided to use the skills she has acquired from the program to give back to the Lions Clubs. Mincheski decided to host a community plant sale at the Algoma Youth Club May 30. Funds raised will be donated in the name of the Luxemburg, Casco and Algoma Lions Clubs to fund children attending Lions Club Camp in Rosholt.

“If I can help them like they helped us, that is all I really want to do,” Mincheski said.

Looking at the project objectively and deciding that she wanted to incorporate more into the plan, Mincheski contacted Algoma Elementary School to see if the students would be able to help plant the seeds.

“They are our future leaders, and this gets them involved with community service, which hopefully, when they become adults, they will continue to practice what they learned as a child,” Mincheski said.

Algoma Elementary was more than willing to contribute the students’ talents and time. Coincidentally, the school had just received a grant for a fourth-grade science class to learn about planting and growing. Mrs. Tamara Smith’s fourth-grade class started planting two weeks ago with guidance from Mincheski and Smith.

The grant specifies the children are to do all of the work, including determining how much soil and water to use. Fourth graders will learn what plants look like when growing and how to instill proper care. The approximately 40 children Smith teaches will be involved in the growing of vegetables such as green peppers and tomatoes along with herbs, fruits, blooming flowers and organic seeds.

Planting and growing materials came from the school’s grant money. The majority of the plants will be going towards the sale, and a select few will remain with the school to be planted in a garden in front of the school.

So far, about 200 plants have been sown, with more to come from Mincheski herself and by way of the children who attend Tina Alsteen’s Country Heartland child care center in Luxemburg. Mincheski plans to visit the school as needed to plant more seeds or help the children transplant them to larger pots.

One obstacle poses mild worry at this time: the weather. Hopefully it will be favorable for the seeds to germinate and grow enough to be presented at the sale. The project plans are to involve the students in setting up fliers around the community advertising the sale and including them in the sale day productions.

Mincheski has been working on this capstone project since the end of January. She was required to do her project to assist an nonprofit group.

Luxemburg Lions member Johanna Peterson stated that Mincheski is not paying the Lions back, but rather, paying it forward.

“She is involving the community; it’s a simple and attractive project raising money for a good thing,” Peterson said. “Fundraisers are not easy things to put together, and she did it creatively while involving children into the mix.”

The Lions are also honored Mincheski decided to incorporate three clubs, because when it comes down to it, the Lions clubs work together to make the community a better place, Peterson said.

Mincheski has been employed as a teller at Harbor Credit Union for 20 years, and for the last five she has also been working at von Stiehl Winery. She enrolled in the leadership development program to expand her management, human resources and supervisory skills.

From piercecountyherald.com: “Retraining helps Ingli launch new career” – When the manufacturing plant where she worked shut down in 2011, Amber Ingli found herself in need of a job and at the threshold of what would be some years of struggle for her and her family.

Today, she has a job helping people who are in need of a job.

Ingli, a 1991 Ellsworth High School graduate, received her associate degree from Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in the Administrative Professional program May 8. Even before the graduation ceremony, she had lined up work with SEEK, an employment agency in Hudson.

“We’re getting there,” Ingli said of the turnaround from the days of difficulty for her family. “It’s nice to know that I’m going to be working. I feel more at peace.”

Ingli was one of 46 graduates in five academic programs to be honored at the CVTC River Falls Campus commencement held at River Falls High School. The graduates included 21 in the Nursing-Associate Degree program, 12 in Criminal Justice-Law Enforcement, nine in Business Management and three in Marketing Management. Ingli was the only Administrative Professional program graduate.

For Ingli, her CVTC education and assistance from federal job retraining programs were keys to recovery from her job loss. Her husband, Mark, works at his father’s business, Ingli Auto Body in Ellsworth. Amber had a job as a production worker at Johnson Controls in Hudson since 1998. The plant shut down in 2011.

“It was a scary feeling,” Ingli said. “I carried the health insurance for the family. It was a good job, and I was first shift.”

Fortunately, she was eligible for job retraining and financial assistance through the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance and Trade Readjustment Allowances programs designed to help workers displaced due to foreign competition. She was able to start her program at CVTC in January 2012, right after the plant shut-down. But that was a scary time, too.

“I was very nervous. Would I know how to study? Does my brain even work anymore? But it all came back to me. I’m graduating with honors,” Ingli said.

One of her concerns was a lack of background in computers, which would be needed for a job in an office setting. But she found the faculty at CVTC knew how to help people like her.

“They’re used to my generation coming back and my younger generation classmates were very helpful,” she said.

Her studies led her to an internship as an administrative assistant in the human resources office at Sajan in River Falls, and that helped her land the job at SEEK, which she started on April 7.

“I recruit applicants and place them in the correct jobs. We don’t want to place people at just any job. We want it to be the right fit,” Ingli said.

Her experience being unemployed after a plant shut-down helps her relate to the applicants coming into SEEK.

“I know what it’s like to be on that side, and a lot of the people we place are in light manufacturing.”

From leadertelegram.com: “High school dropout receives college diploma 31 years later” — By Emily Miels – Until recently, Jim Voss didn’t consider himself a scholarly person.

The former high school dropout didn’t know if he could even pass the G.E.D. test — a test designed to determine whether the test-taker has a high school graduate’s level of knowledge — let alone obtain a college diploma.

On Friday, Voss, who will be 50 in June, will graduate from Chippewa Valley Technical College with a degree in business management and near perfect grades.

After receiving failing grades in high school, Voss dropped out in 1983 to pursue employment.

“Back then it wasn’t uncommon for somebody to leave school to go to work,” Voss said. “I actually hitchhiked to Portage after I dropped out.”

Voss got a job in the newspaper industry. He started as a “paper stuffer” and eventually worked up to various management positions, following job opportunities across the state and Midwest.

“I started at the bottom of the newspaper business, and I rose and rose,” Voss said. “About every four years I was promoted, usually to another company that would see my talents.”

After a series of unforeseen events, including the moving of print operations at the Chippewa Herald — where Voss was working as pressroom manager — to La Crosse, Voss found himself out of a job and searching for new opportunities.

“It scared the bejeebers out of me walking in here,” Voss said about his first day at CVTC in 2012.

Voss didn’t know what to expect when he decided to return to school, but he felt at home at CVTC right away.

“When I walked in here, you know, the students and the instructors all treated me as an equal,” he said.

One of Voss’ main goals was to succeed academically at CVTC. Though he said it wasn’t always easy, he did just that. He is president of Phi Theta Kappa, an honor society for two-year schools that provides members with grants and networking opportunities.

Valuable experience

CVTC’s business management program helped Voss grow the skills he’d learned during his years in the newspaper industry.

“It helped me expand some of my management knowledge, but it also well-rounded it to more than just one business as well as bringing me up on some of the technology,” he said.

Tom Huffcut, CVTC’s vice president of operations, said students in that program are required to have an internship. Voss was interested in something more advanced, focusing on mid- to senior-level management.

“He approached our president for that reason, who put him in touch with me, and from there I kind of matched him up,” Huffcut said, noting Voss was eager to help and make an impact.

Voss worked on a combined project with human resources and college professional development as an intern. He created surveys, developed spreadsheets, revised outdated policies and participated in leadership programs.

“I learned a lot of things in my classes here, but those people are the trainers of the trainers,” he said. “They train the people that are instructing, and it shows.”

Voss was the department’s first intern. Karen Callaway, his supervisor and professional development specialist at CVTC, said his work continues to be beneficial in developing and customizing training programs.

“He fit right in and everything,” she said. “We were glad to have the help.”

Voss said he hopes to work toward managing operations and feels more confident and prepared than ever.

“I can use my knowledge, my expertise and the things I’ve learned here, and I can apply them to any business,” he said.

From chippewa.com: “CVTC graduates love the caring, excitement of nursing” — EAU CLAIRE — Kensie Hughes of Chippewa Falls likes caring for people, but she also has a bit of a weakness for excitement in her life. Nursing seemed like a natural choice, and she’s hoping someday to work in emergency medicine.

Hughes and 79 other nursing students took big steps toward fulfilling their dreams Friday night when they were among 621 graduates in 44 academic programs receiving degrees and certificates at the spring commencement of Chippewa Valley Technical College.

Nursing had the most graduates at the Eau Claire campus, followed by business management with 38 graduates, and electrical power distribution with 30.

Hughes, a 2008 Chippewa Falls High School graduate, originally completed training as a certified nursing assistant and worked at the Chippewa Manor before starting the nursing program, then taking some time off to start a family. Completing her associate degree in nursing now puts her in line for a long career in health care.

“I always enjoyed helping people,” Hughes said. “I just like being around people. Everyone’s so different and it’s never the same every day.”

Hughes plans on pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the future after she begins working in the field, a typical strategy for CVTC nursing graduates. She also has her eye on emergency room work.

“I love adrenaline. I was a volunteer firefighter for the Chippewa Fire District for a while,” Hughes said.

Liking the caring as well as the excitement in nursing is something Hughes has in common with fellow graduate Jamie Smith of Cornell.

“I really liked my transition experience at Mayo Health Systems,” she said. The transitions part of nursing training involves 80 hours in the field working with cooperating health care providers.

“I was able to respond to level one trauma in the emergency room, and help people who came in with neurological problems and brain trauma,” Smith said.

She started her nursing education at Western Technical College in La Crosse, but came to Chippewa County, where her husband William works at Chippewa Concrete. She transferred to the CVTC program.

“I always wanted to be a nurse. It’s been my passion since I was a little girl,” she said. “I like caring for people, and there’s always diversity in what you do.”

Graduate Ashley Weiss of Menomonie, who is originally from Gilmanton, was the student speaker and urged graduates to have confidence that they can achieve their goals and overcome their failures.

“If you want something bad enough, what you have accomplished here today should be enough to show you that you can absolutely reach any goal you set your mind to,” she said. “But don’t be afraid of failure on your way there. Sometimes those failures are what motivate you to do better and push yourself harder.”

The guest speaker was Jeff West, president of Bear Down, a company that helps companies effectively implement their strategic plans. West was the co-founder and CEO of Silicon Logic Engineering, a company he sold in 2006. West told the story of good employee A and disgruntled employee B.

“I hope each of you someday take the leap and start your own business. There’s nothing else like it in the world,” West said, acknowledging that many have either taken jobs or will soon.

“Every business you work for, no matter the size today, at one point was started by someone with a dream. They put their heart and soul and probably most of their worldly net worth into getting going,” West said. “So the question is, which employee are you going to be? A or B?”

From chippewa.com: “Nursing program offers new career to CVTC grad” — Bethany Smith of Menomonie found manufacturing work wasn’t quite right for her, especially after her hours changed. Now she’s about to embark on a new career after completing the Nursing-Associate Degree program at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC).

“I was working a full-time job, and they switched to a 12-hour shift. I decided I didn’t want to do that the rest of my life,” Smith said.

Smith was one of 621 graduates in 44 academic programs honored Friday night at the CVTC spring commencement ceremony held at UW-Eau Claire’s Zorn Arena. On Thursday, CVTC honored 46 graduates in five programs at its River Falls Campus. The number of graduates at Eau Claire was very similar to the spring 2013 graduation, which honored 626 graduates.

Retraining help

The most popular programs among this spring’s graduates at the Eau Claire campus are Nursing, with 80 graduates, Business Management with 38 graduates, and Electrical Power Distribution with 30.

When Smith, a single mother, decided to go back to school, she found help through the Bridges2Healthcare program that provides job retraining for displaced and low income workers. The program helped her explore opportunities in the healthcare field.

“I always wanted to do something in the medical field,” Smith said. “I have always been fascinated by the human body and how it works, and I like taking care of people.”

Smith is considering emergency room or surgical work as long-term goals in the nursing field.

“The decision to go back to school was an easy one, but leaving the security of a full-time job was hard,” she said.

Speakers

Among the other graduates was student speaker Ashley Weiss of Menomonie, who is originally from Gilmanton, in the Administrative Professional program. She urged the graduates to have confidence that they can achieve their goals and overcome their failures.

“If you want something bad enough, what you have accomplished here today should be enough to show you that you can absolutely reach any goal you set your mind to,” she said. “But don’t be afraid of failure on your way there. Sometimes those failures are what motivate you to do better and push yourself harder.”

 

From journaltimes.com: “‘Victory’ over blindness–Woman graduates from Gateway despite going blind while in school” – By Aaron Knapp – RACINE COUNTY — When Leticia Gomez walked up to receive her diploma from Gateway Technical College Tuesday evening, she did so without something that she started her studies with three years ago — her sight.

The 35-year-old Union Grove resident was diagnosed with a degenerative retinal disease in 2010, and even though doctors expected she had 15 years of eyesight remaining, she describes her vision currently as what one might see looking through a hole in a child-sized shoebox.

Nevertheless, Gomez is graduating with an associate of applied science degree in information technology from Gateway with a 3.95 GPA, and will continue her studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the fall.

“Over the past three years, it’s been all about adapting,” she said in a phone interview Monday. “It’s not critical; it’s not taking years off of my life.”

She is one of more than 700 Gateway students expected to graduate either in spring or summer who were recognized at a commencement ceremony at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside’s Sports and Activity Center, 900 Wood Road in Somers, on Tuesday night, according to a press release from Gateway.

Gomez had intended to start school in 2008 and had registered for classes at Cardinal Stritch University, but when her then 4-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, she canceled those plans to be her daughter’s caregiver.

She explained that her daughter requires constant monitoring because she was diagnosed at such a young age that she does not recognize the signs in her body to treat herself.

Although Gomez was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease two years later, doctors anticipated the disease would take 15 years before she would notice a loss in her vision — ample time to plan for her own livelihood and her daughter to become self-sufficient in treating herself.

That changed as her eyesight failed much more quickly than anticipated. She lost her driver’s license in June 2012 and was deemed legally blind in July 2012, barely two years after the initial diagnosis.

Gomez explained that school became even more urgent to set an example for her daughter, noting that diabetes can lead to blindness.

“I just said, ‘I need to do this for my daughter,’ ” she explained. “Why don’t I choose to be a role model for her?”

Gomez started classes at Gateway’s Racine campus soon after losing her driver’s license, in spite of snickers from passers-by when she was dropped off at school in a bus.

“All the time she’s been in school, she’s worked around it, didn’t bring attention to it,” said instructor Jill Fall. “I’m just thrilled she’s going back to school … nothing stops her.”

Gomez gained confidence as she consistently earned high grades and joined organizations at school, like as an officer in the Association of Information Technology Professionals.

“Seeing those A’s and making the dean’s list … that’s what fueled me to do better because that was the only thing I could control,” she said. “I earned those; I made those happen. I could put in the hard work and see the results. That was my victory.”

Already registered at UW-M, Gomez will start classes toward a four-year degree in information technology in the fall with the end goal of getting her master’s degree and returning to Gateway as an instructor.

From weau.com: “Future looking bright for graduating CVTC students hoping to get a job” – CVTC graduate Joseph Kriese wears love for the Green Bay Packers on his hat and on his shirt — all together with his graduation gown. There is a reason behind it.

“I’m real excited to start,” Kriese said about a new job he was just hired for.

He is getting ready to move to Green Bay and is taking up a position with the Green Bay Packers.

“It was definitely a dream offer; I never thought a 2 year degree would bring me this far,” he said.

He will be working maintenance, HVAC, plumbing and fixing up all the odds and ends to help make sure you enjoy Packers games.

It is a job he found online and one he never thought he would get. Four interviews later he got an offer.

“I don’t think anything could stop me now, I feel good about it,” he said.

Career experts we talked with say the 432 students who graduated from CVTC on Friday night should feel very good about their future. Beth Mathison with Manpower says they will be in high demand.

“A lot of employers are actually standing in line to attract those new grads and they’re begging them to come and work for them at their office,” she said.

She says high-skilled jobs are in high demand.

“There are some companies that specifically do internships with those candidates a year before graduation so they can get them interested in coming to work for them,” she said.

Margo Keys, VP of Student Services at CVTC, says healthcare and manufacturing are hot fields right now. She says colleges like CVTC have built up their programs to meet the demand.

“What we see is more mobility with our students and certainly the classroom has changed significantly with the higher tech,” Keys said.

Whether it is the programs, the need for workers or a combination thereof, the bottom line is students getting two-year degrees are getting jobs.

Past surveys show 90% of CVTC’s graduating classes are employed by January. 89% work in Wisconsin.

In the end Joseph Kriese got out of his program what he wanted: a ticket to work for the Packers.

“It’s just as good as a four-year degree; I mean I landed my job with a two-year degree,” he said.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 172 other followers

%d bloggers like this: