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FALL 2018





CVTC Alumni Chef Anxious to Mentor Culinary Students John Bender would like to establish a mentoring relationship with some of the students advancing through the new Culinary Management program at Chippewa Valley Technical College. He has a lot to share with them. Bender is a CVTC alumnus, a 2007 graduate of the Hotel and Restaurant Management program that in subsequent years was discontinued, so he knows about the challenges CVTC students looking for careers in the industry face. And at age 35 he’s already built the kind of career many of the current students might dream of. “I had been working in the industry through high school and afterward,” Bender said. “And at a young age I got in at a very high-end restaurant.” Bender started out washing dishes at Grizzly’s in Eau Claire, and also worked cooking jobs while still a student at North High School. He helped run Anderson’s Bar & Grill by the movie theater in Chippewa Falls for more than a year. That gave him the experience to get hired on at Canoe Bay in Chetek, a Mobile Five Star and a AAA Five Diamond restaurant.

“When I was there, we were getting interviewed by the New York Times,” Bender said. It was grueling 80-hour-a-week work in a two-person kitchen where Bender worked directly with the executive chef. “You had to prove yourself every day,” he said. “Then on Tuesdays, when we were closed, we would drive to the Twin Cities to buy fish flown in from Alaska. The experience shaped me to where I am today.” The executive chef had arranged for Bender to be accepted at the New England Culinary Institute, but he found out he was about to be a father, so he stayed and enrolled in CVTC’s program. “I already figured out that I could cook, but I learned more about the business – the numbers side,” Bender said. “We didn’t get in the kitchen much. It was more about restaurant management.” Bender worked as a full-time chef at Shanghai Bistro in Eau Claire while in school, then opened a restaurant in Hudson before settling into a top job at the Free House, the largest of the restaurants owned by the Blue Plate Company in Minneapolis. Bender was the executive chef. “When I was there, we went from $8 million to $10 million a year in sales. I managed a staff of four to six sous chefs, 100 staff members and a dozen shift leads, and we were the training facility for all the other restaurants.” After two and a half years of that kind of pace, Bender has come back home to Eau Claire, where he is working toward opening his own restaurant, a brick oven pizza concept. In the meantime, he’s working as a restaurant consultant and teaching classes at Forage in Banbury Place in Eau Claire. He’s also looking to reconnect with CVTC through the new Culinary Management program, which is more kitchen focused than the program he attended. As the program moves forward, he’ll be looking for adjunct teaching opportunities to share his knowledge with those entering the industry. “I want to mentor some students and show them how fun it can be in the industry,” Bender said. “I’d like to give back to the place where my career took off.”

Dish up a palatable future. cvtc.edu/Culinary 715-833-6300


Prevea Looks to CVTC Alumni as Expansion Progresses As Prevea Health captures a growing share of the healthcare market in the Chippewa Valley, the organization relies on a strong partnership with Chippewa Valley Technical College to fill its increasing need for healthcare workers. Founded in Green Bay in 1996, Prevea, a multi-specialty healthcare organization, expanded to western Wisconsin in 2015. Today it has locations in Altoona, Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, Menomonie, Arcadia, Augusta, Mondovi, Ladysmith, Rice Lake and Cornell. Prevea also partners with HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls. “We’re looking to further expand in the market here so we can provide more people access to high-quality care that is close to home,” said Jennifer Benrud, Prevea’s director of operations for western Wisconsin. “We are currently building a 30,500-sq.-ft. medical office building in Altoona and will soon break ground in Menomonie on a new 13,000-sq.-ft. health center. We are also scheduled to open a new clinic in Ladysmith in January.” Benrud noted that this expansion creates the need for more healthcare workers, beyond what is needed due to normal turnover. To fill those positions, Prevea looks for CVTC alumni. Prevea hires from most CVTC healthcare programs, with Nursing, Medical Assistant, Medical Laboratory Technician, and Radiography students particularly in demand. Benrud says Prevea likes to hire CVTC graduates. “I have found that there is a difference with CVTC graduates,” Benrud said. “They come out well prepared, with experience working directly with patients. Through their clinical assignments, they know what they are doing in terms of patient care.” Most Prevea facilities in western Wisconsin are host sites for CVTC healthcare program clinical assignments. “We get to know the CVTC students through these clinicals with us,” Benrud added. Today, CVTC alumni can be found in Prevea health centers all over the Chippewa Valley. All of the full-time staff at the health center in Cornell are CVTC alumni, including nurse practitioner Kelsey Meyer. At the Mondovi clinic, nurse practitioner Angela Lindstrom is a CVTC graduate, as are three other full-time employees.


All three full-time staff members at the Prevea Cornell Health Center are CVTC graduates. From left are, LPN Bobbi Spangler, nurse practitioner Kelsey Meyer, and CMA Tracy Brookshaw.

“The majority of our western Wisconsin health center locations have CVTC alumni working at the locations,” Benrud said. “At some locations, CVTC alumni are the majority of the staff working at the health center.” An important part of Prevea’s partnership with CVTC is the Prevea Health Family Medicine Clinic located in the CVTC Health Education Center in Eau Claire. The clinic is a healthcare resource for the community and provides healthcare services to CVTC students. The clinic is also home to the Prevea Health Family Medicine Residency Program, in partnership with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, the Medical College of Wisconsin and HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital. At the clinic, resident physicians and faculty physicians see patients of all ages and in all stages of life for a variety of healthcare needs. After the resident physicians complete their residencies, many remain in the area working with local healthcare providers. The program plays an important role in recruiting physicians for the Chippewa Valley. “Studies show that about a third of physicians end up working within a 75-mile radius of where they attended residency,” said Dr. Joan Hamblin, director of the Prevea Health Family Medicine Residency Program. “We’re proud to say that our residency program helps to provide more family medicine physicians here in the Chippewa Valley and throughout northwest Wisconsin.”

Prevea Health offers four $500 scholarships through CVTC Foundation, Inc., for any CVTC student entering or enrolled in a healthcare-related field.

a celebration of excellence


“All Sh

k Up�

Featuring Elvis tribute artist and CVTC alumnus, Garry Wesley

Save the Date // Thursday, April 4, 2019

FEATURE YOUR BUSINESS ON THE ALUMNI MARKET! Are you a CVTC alumni who owns a business that provides a locally made product or service? If so, contact Holly with the CVTC Alumni Association at 715-831-7299 or hbembenek@cvtc.edu for a chance to have your business featured on the CVTC Alumni Market to be announced at the Spring Gala.

CVTC Business Education Center 620 West Clairemont Avenue, Eau Claire


Support CVTC Foundation on Giving Tuesday Consider including CVTC Foundation, Inc., on your list of organizations to support this #GivingTuesday! #GivingTuesday is a global giving movement that has been established by individuals, families, organizations, businesses and communities in 50 states and several countries around the world. This year, #GivingTuesday falls on Nov. 27. #GivingTuesday harnesses the power of a unique blend of partners to transform how people think about, talk about, and participate in the giving season. It inspires people to take collective action to improve their communities; give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they believe in; and help create a better world. When you include CVTC Foundation, Inc., on your list of organizations to support this #GivingTuesday, know you will make an impact in the lives of current CVTC students.

MAKE YOUR TAX DEDUCTIBLE GIFT ONLINE AT: givecampus.com/schools/ChippewaValleyTechnicalCollege

To learn more about CVTC Foundation, Inc., visit: cvtc.edu/foundation facebook.com/CVTCFoundation

“We love to hire CVTC graduates, and Wisconsin TechConnect is another great avenue for us to share our opportunities in northwestern Wisconsin with them,” said Angela Hite, regional director of community relations for Dove Healthcare. “We are thankful to have access to this recruitment platform.”


Website Helps CVTC Alumni, Employers Connect If you’re a Chippewa Valley Technical College student or alumni who wants employers to know where to find you and what you bring to the table, you can connect with them through Wisconsin TechConnect. Founded in 1999, Wisconsin TechConnect is a free statewide online employment information system for recruiting Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) students and graduates for all types of employment. A collaborative effort of Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges, the wisconsintechconnect.com website is operated by the Wisconsin TechConnect Consortium of the WTCS colleges. If you are an employer looking to recruit CVTC graduates, you can post a job and within 72 hours have it available for viewing by all WTCS students and alumni who register. Your announcement is also emailed directly to the registered job seekers who match the program and skill set you are looking for. The service is available only to WTCS students and graduates and will not draw applicants without qualifications. If you are a CVTC student or alumni, you can register on Wisconsin TechConnect with information, including your CVTC program; the location where you would prefer to work; whether you are seeking a full-time, part-time or internship position; and your complete resume. Wisconsin TechConnect also provides a way for instructors from CVTC and other WTCS colleges to refer students and graduates to employers. Registration for both employers and job seekers is easy, and it can pay big dividends for both!

BRINGING HONOR TO THE COLLEGE Nominations Open for CVTC Alumni Awards

The Chippewa Valley Technical College Alumni Association is seeking nominations for the 2019 Distinguished Alumni and Outstanding Recent Alumni awards to be presented at the Spring Gala April 4. The Distinguished Alumni Award honors outstanding alumni who 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award winner Mel Jahnke have made significant contributions to their community, college and career. Alumni who have completed a diploma or degree program at CVTC are eligible. Mel Jahnke, founder of Imagineering, was honored as the 2018 Distinguished Alumni. The Outstanding Recent Alumni Awards honor alumni who have completed a diploma or degree program at CVTC within the last 10 years. Do you know a CVTC alum who exhibits outstanding leadership skills, has achieved significant accomplishments, is committed to improving their chosen profession, or is actively involved in the community and/or CVTC? If so, nominate a CVTC alumni in your life today! SPRING 2018 | CVTC.EDU/ALUMNI CVTC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in employment, admissions, programs, or activities. General inquiries regarding the College’s non-discrimination policies may be directed to: Director of Human Resources • Chippewa Valley Technical College • 620 W. Clairemont Ave. • Eau Claire, WI 54701 715-852-1377 • WI Relay: 711



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