From thenorthwestern.com: “FVTC graduates follow their dreams” — Molly Willis tried the traditional four-year college route.

But after struggling to find the path she wanted to follow, the 25-year-old Oshkosh woman left the university behind, taking a job as a reception with the Bergstrom Automotive group.

Working closely with the administrative assistant, Willis realized that was what she wanted: a job that kept her busy every day, but never doing the same thing.

The Brookfield native began taking classes at Fox Valley Technical College in the administrative professional program, while she continued to work full-time.

“I knew what I didn’t want,” Willis said. “But (FVTC) had the administrative professional program and I thought that would be perfect for me and what I was looking for.”

Willis, along with nearly 1,000 others walked across the stage and collected their diplomas at Fox Valley Technical College’s spring commencement ceremonies at Kolf Sports Center Sunday.

Some of the graduates started at FVTC after graduating from high school, others waited before finding the path they wanted to go down and still others were switching career paths.

“Its never too late to follow your dream. You just have to have it. With the right amount of determination you can accomplish anything,” student commencement speaker Chandra Riley, a graduate of the culinary arts program, said. “All you have to do is set your mind to it. Visualize yourself achieving your goal and the steps to get there will fall into place on their own.”

For Abu Muhit, that dream involved a trip across the ocean and the realization of the vital role automobiles play in the United States.

The 25-year-old Oshkosh resident came to the United States from Bangladesh in 2008. Upon arriving, he realized that it was very common to have an automobile for everyday use and transportation.

“The place I’m from, we never had any cars,” said Muhit, who will be working at CarX in Fond du Lac as a technician. “I wanted to know about cars and how they work.”

Muhit originally enrolled at FVTC to improve his English. He eventually began taking classes in the automotive technology program, with hopes of owning his own auto shop in the future.

“You’re going to walk off this stage today and start a new life,” said Catherine Tierney, the president and chief executive officer at Community First Credit Union, who gave the commencement address.

For Willis, the new life will involve continuing her job at Bergstrom Automotive, where she will work as executive assistant to CEO John Bergstrom. It also means the possibility of continuing her education at a later date.

“Just having my associate’s degree, my options are much more open,” she said. “I’m seeing where the chips fall now.”

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From wausaudailyherald.com: “Beyond shop talk: Auto curriculum at Everest gets an overhaul” — Next year, when auto mechanics students at D.C. Everest Senior High School work on a car, they will be helping people get to work.

As part of the district’s new auto tech curriculum, students will work on cars for Wheels to Work, a nonprofit program that offers low-cost vehicles and repairs to struggling Marathon County residents.

“It’s awesome. We’re just getting (students at Everest) started, but we’re very excited,” said Becky Kopp, project coordinator for Wheels to Work.

The program accepts donated vehicles, which then are repaired to working order, if needed. Kopp said having students do the work on the vehicles saves the organization money.

“For a brake job, we’d normally pay about $100. If a school does it, we pay about $30,” Kopp said. “It’s almost free labor, and it also helps the students get experience working on vehicles for real people.”

Aaron Hoffman, career and technical education coordinator for the D.C. Everest Area School District, said the new curriculum — which will be implemented in the 2012-13 school year and includes a basic car-care course, advanced auto mechanics and auto technology — will help better prepare students for technical college.

Students who take advanced auto mechanics can get two transcripted credits at Northcentral Technical College, and students who take auto technology can get certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

 

From jsonline.com: “Small-town mayor uses big-time diplomacy in war zone” — Forward Operating Base Pasab, Afghanistan – Little did Manawa Mayor Dave Sarna know when he deployed to Afghanistan last fall that his skills as a small-town politician would come in handy.

Though he’s assigned to a combat engineer unit, Sarna spent a few months as “mayor” of a forward operating base, running the U.S. military installation like any other community, albeit one smack dab in a war zone.

And he’s spent part of his deployment working with an Afghan Army engineer unit helping train them to take over road clearance duties and search for IEDs. Working with Afghan officers and interpreters required the diplomatic skills of a politician who served eight years on the Manawa city council before he was elected mayor.

“If you want to sum up the role of a mayor, you’re basically a problem-solver,” Sarna said in his office at this U.S. military base in Kandahar province. “But there’s a lot of pressure on you to make the right decision. Back home if you make a mistake, the worst that can happen is it’ll cost taxpayer dollars. Here a mistake can mean loss of life.”

About 15 months after he was elected mayor, a part-time job, he received his orders to deploy with the Wausau-based Army Reserve 428th Engineer Co. He previously served in Desert Storm and Iraq in 2006-’07 and didn’t have to go back to war.

But Sarna felt it was something he needed to do.

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