Page 1

focus Fox Valley Technical College

volume 4, issue 1 • spring 2011

your future


Heights As Elizabeth Amweg discovered, the opportunities are sky high for graduates of FVTC’s aviation programs. Page 7

inside: >

Advanced > Manufacturing Technology Center offers high-tech training

How one graduate found his calling and opened his own business at age 22

Page 2

Page 10


New service helps people manage their finances—during and after college Page 15

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Focus is published bi-annually for the communities of Fox Valley Technical College. EXECUTIVE EDITOR/MANAGER OF MEDIA RELATIONS Chris Jossart CUSTOM PUBLISHING SERVICES The Coghlan Group

10 in every issue

6 What’s Now The college’s commitment to providing innovative training and services continues to help develop a skilled workforce and sharpen our region’s competitive edge.

features 7



Reaching New Heights The opportunities are sky high when it comes to careers for graduates of FVTC’s aviation programs. Above and Beyond Eddie Paul’s first class at Fox Valley Technical College helped him discover his life’s passion—and set him on the path to owning and operating a business at age 22. Opportunity Knocks Two years ago, Miriam Quinonez’s long-time employer packed up and moved away. FVTC helped her transform that unlucky break into the gateway for a new career.


FVTC 2 Around A quick look at what’s making news at FVTC.


Focus on Workplace Training When Walker Forge needed specialized software training for its designers, the company knew exactly who to call.


Focus on the Entrepreneur The Venture Center at Fox Valley Technical College helped open Kristin Benson Ellsworth’s eyes to a world of new possibilities.


Focus on Alumni Q&A with Michell Pascarella, a family nurse practitioner with the Fox Cities Community Health Center.


Focus on the Foundation Thanks to a new grant and the collaboration of numerous community partners, Fox Valley Technical College has unveiled a unique resource to help people learn how to manage their finances, both during and after college.


Focus on the Student Experience How FVTC Truck Driving students gain valuable experience while helping one of the state’s most vital non-profit organizations.


Fox Valley Tech is an affordable place to earn a degree and to learn from experienced instructors. When I’m done, I may decide to continue my education at another college or university because FVTC has a lot of transfer options.

Welcome to Fox Valley Technical College.

EDITOR Chris Mikko ART DIRECTOR Amy Bjellos CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Chuck Benda, Chris Jossart, Chris Mikko, Vicki Stavig, Sue Wilson PHOTOGRAPHY Gary Brilowski, Gary Gawinski, Cara Jakubiec,Dave Kaphingst, Patrick Kelly, Adam Shea DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE MARKETING Barb Dreger

PRESIDENT Dr. Susan A. May Fox Valley Technical College 1825 N. Bluemound Dr. P.O. Box 2277 Appleton, WI 54912-2277 1-800-735-3882 TTY (hearing impaired) (920) 735-2569 (e-mail inquiries)

Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association, FVTC offers more than 200 associate degree, technical diploma and certificate programs, and instruction related to 20 apprenticeship trades, in addition to providing services to business and industry. Annually, the college serves about 47,000 people throughout its five-county district. Member of:

John Maini

FVTC Student, Banking & Financial Services © 2011 Fox Valley Technical College. All rights reserved. Equal Opportunity Employer/Educator.

aroundfvtc New Center Supports Growth in Manufacturing

FVTC's new Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center in Oshkosh.

The new Fox Valley Technical College Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center in Oshkosh opened in January 2011 to help address the growing demand for skilled workers in the region. The 30,000-square-foot facility houses the latest technology for both workplace training opportunities and program-related classes in welding and metal fabrication. The center operates in partnership with Miller Electric Mfg. Co., one of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest manufacturers of arc welding products designed for manufacturing, fabrication, construction, aviation, motorsports, education, agricultural, and marine applications. Miller donated more than $1 million in welding equipment to the center as part of the new partnership. Plans are underway to implement robotic welding equipment in 2012. In exchange for the equipment, FVTC provides in-kind training for Miller employees each year. Despite a sluggish economy, welding careers are still in demand in the New North region. According to the 2010 New North Occupation Opportunity Projections Survey, area welding careers are anticipated to increase by 26% by 2015. Learn more:

Welding careers are in demand.

2 Fox Valley Technical College

News Briefs The First Choice for Education and Training for 100 Years Tell us why we’ve been your first choice! There’s good reason why FVTC has been the college of choice in this community for 100 years. You get high-tech occupational training for the workplace, whether you’re preparing for a new career or sharpening your job skills. In fact, many area employers turn to FVTC first to hire jobready employees and to keep them sharp with continuing education. No surprise, since one-third of the fastest growing occupations require a technical college education. Fox Valley Tech prepares you for jobs that are the fabric of our community—from law enforcement and health care to business and advanced manufacturing . . . and everything in between. With over 200 programs to choose from, you can train for a career that’s in demand—right here, right now.

How do YOU know us? Visit and share a story or two about how FVTC has made a difference in your life. Read stories shared by others too! You may also e-mail your story to or call (920) 735-5607.

Scan this code with your smart phone to share your story at

• FVTC is the first educational institution in Wisconsin to earn a Green Masters Award from the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council for its efforts in energy reduction, recycling, implementation of water quality courses, and repurposing of food waste. • Medical Education Technologies, Inc., or METI, a worldwide leader in interactive patient simulators used to mimic human medical scenarios, presented FVTC with a national award for the college’s commitment to innovative training in the health care field. • Dr. Patricia Robinson, executive dean of the Public Safety division, co-authored an article in the October 2010 issue of Police Chief magazine, published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The article is entitled, “When the Guilty Walk Free: The Role of Police in Preventing Wrongful Convictions.” • The FVTC Foundation, Inc. increased Dr. Patricia Robinson its support for displaced workers in need of retraining by receiving a second-year $20,000 grant from the U.S. Bank Foundation and a $15,000 grant from the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation for scholarships. • FVTC’s City Center GOAL (Goal Oriented Adult Learning) Lab in downtown Appleton is serving as a statewide model for effective educational partnerships. A site evaluation conducted by the Wisconsin Technical College System recognized the Lab’s above-average completion rates and use of shared resources with the Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley. • Marge Rubin, director of Articulated Programs and coordinator of the Wisconsin Career Pathways Website Project, and Jay Stulo, Web developer for the Learning Innovations department, co-presented, “What’s All the Buzz About: Career Pathways and Wisconsin’s Website,” at the National Career Pathways Network 2010 Conference in Dallas. The project’s purpose is to help grow and sustain a skilled workforce to support economic development.

Marge Rubin

Jay Stulo

Focus is also on the Web!

focus spring 2011



on workplace training Close to Home When Walker Forge needed specialized software training for its designers, the company knew exactly who to call. By Vicki Stavig It wasn’t the first time the folks at Walker Forge had turned to Fox Valley Technical College for help in providing specialized training for its employees. And, given the success of the most recent training program, along with those provided in the past, it won’t be the last time. Walker Forge has been making hot forged carbon and alloy steel products for numerous industries since 1950. The company’s Clintonville facility—not far from one of FVTC’s regional centers—is the site of its manufacturing operations. That is where 370 employees design and manufacture parts for use in the oil/gas, heavy construction, automotive, recreational, and agricultural industries, as well as for the military. When Walker Forge decided to use a new computer-aided program called Pro Engineer to design its dies, that decision brought a need to train its team of designers. “That’s when we turned to Fox Valley Technical College,” says Rick Recktenwald, vice president of manufacturing for Walker Forge and a member of the college’s Board of Trustees. “We had been working with Fox Valley Technical College for decades in setting up training programs. In fact, our entire die design team is made up of FVTC graduates.” Recktenwald met with Steve Dreger, a key account manager on FVTC’s Business & Industry Services team, to discuss his company’s needs. “We’re the college’s training arm that works with clients to identify and resolve an endless variety of workplace issues and needs,” Dreger says. “Once we identify all the business challenges, a customized plan can be developed to achieve the organization’s training goals.” In this case, Walker Forge was sending its designer group out of the


area for Pro Engineer training every time it was needed. The company gave FVTC an opportunity to provide the training locally. Chris Kratzke, tool & die designer Dreger made at Walker Forge, displays Pro arrangements for Engineer technology. Walker Forge to receive the training at FVTC’s Clintonville Regional Center, utilizing an adjunct instructor. Going Digital FVTC will provide training whenever Accessibility to expert resources and and wherever the client desires. In the specialized equipment make Fox Valley case of Walker Forge, the college saved Technical College a top choice for the company the cost of travel and workplace solutions of virtually any kind. lodging. “It went very well,” Recktenwald says, noting that the One piece of innovation that is program delivered precisely what the impacting FVTC’s workplace partners company’s designers needed. “FVTC is digital printing technology with has the talent and the resources to build state-of-the-art Kodak brand a program for anyone.” equipment. Paper companies, for That is exactly what Dreger and his instance, work with the college’s team do. “We like to be innovative,” he Printing Technologies department to says, adding that the college has been test a gamut of paper substrates for offering customized training for nearly optimized resolution, ink quality, and 30 years, and on average, serves about adherence properties. 1,400 employers and more than 21,000 employees annually. “Research and development departments from the paper industry look to us for ways to increase their FVTC has the talent bottom lines,” notes Shana Farrell, and resources to manager of Printing Services at FVTC. “Our digital printing technology build a program for is the first of its kind in the area.”


Rick Recktenwald

Vice President of Manufacturing Walker Forge

“We have a wealth of professional resources ready to meet the training needs of customers, with both technical knowledge and real-world work experience,” states Dreger. “In many cases, participants can earn college credits for the training, which typically occurs at the main campus in Appleton, at one of our regional centers, or at the client’s location—when, where, and how they want it.” Fox Valley Technical College

Internally, the college also uses digital printing technology as part of its sustainability efforts by implementing document output management systems, resulting in enhanced efficiency and cost savings.

Learn more:

For a brief video of the software’s impact, go to


on the entrepreneur

Vision Quest The Venture Center at Fox Valley Technical College helped open Kristin Benson Ellsworth’s eyes to a world of new possibilities. By Vicki Stavig Sometimes an idea for a new business comes when you least expect it. In the case of Kristin Benson Ellsworth, attempts to get her young daughter to wear her glasses led to starting Peeps Eyewear, a wholesaler of glasses designed for children ages 3 to 6. Ellsworth, who had earned an undergraduate degree in business and then a law degree, credits the Venture Center at Fox Valley Technical College for giving her the tools to start Peeps Eyewear. “Everything came together with Fox Valley Technical College,” she says. “It was the springboard to start my business. Its resources and mentors helped me move forward.” When Ellsworth tried to get her 3year-old daughter to wear her glasses, she received a curt reply. “Princesses don’t wear glasses,” the little girl said. So Ellsworth set out to change her daughter’s viewpoint by writing a story titled, “Princesses Wear Glasses,” which

If it wasn’t for FVTC’s Venture Center, I wouldn’t be this far along.

Kristin Benson Ellsworth Founder, Peeps Eyewear

Crossing the Bridge When Fox Valley Technical College offered a Bridge to Entrepreneurship and Business course for 14 ELL (English Language Learner) students representing a range of countries, they all quickly learned the basics of starting a business in the United States or in their homelands.

she later developed into a book that is now included with each pair of Peeps Eyewear glasses.

Taking the Next Step In 2008, Ellsworth registered for the Venture Center’s E-Seed entrepreneurship training program, which included courses on business legal structures, marketing, market research and analysis, customer relations, product pricing, and business finance. “The next step was to make glasses, but I couldn’t find manufacturers in the United States,” she says. “I read about the Fab Lab at FVTC and used it to develop a 3-D image of what I wanted the glasses to look like.” After a year-long search, Ellsworth connected with a manufacturer. “The frames are made overseas, and everything is tested in the United States,” she says. Ellsworth added that the books are made locally by RR Donnelley. The company prints her books from its Greenville, Wis., facility, in addition to packaging, warehousing, kitting, and shipper services for Peeps Eyewear. The girls’ line, called Princess Peeps, includes two designs: a classic frame and a pink, sparkly princess frame. Ellsworth also is developing a line for boys. Last year, Ellsworth entered her business plan in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest and earned first place in the competition’s Business Services division. In August, Ellsworth began selling her product line with University of “We’re trying to encourage our students to look at entrepreneurship as a viable choice,” says Caethe Brockman, an instructor in FVTC’s Entrepreneurship and Marketing program. “With this class, we wanted to develop a product, so the students could better understand entrepreneurship.”

Kristin Ellsworth (left) with Teresa Glasow of Wisconsin Vision.

Wisconsin Health Optical and Wink Optical in Lincoln Park, Ill. “If it wasn’t for FVTC’s Venture Center, I wouldn’t be this far along,” Ellsworth says. “The tools and resources it provided were instrumental in getting my business off the ground. And I had a technical team behind me with the college’s Fab Lab.” And, Ellsworth adds, this is only the start. “I want my glasses to be available to children throughout the country,” she says. “I hope that when children get their first pair of glasses, they will walk out excited to be wearing them.” Ellsworth’s goal to make Peeps Eyewear frames accessible to children throughout the U.S. took another step closer to reality when she recently landed a partnership with Wisconsin Vision, a large Midwest optical, eye exam, eyeglass, and contact lens provider with 27 locations in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois. Her products are available in Wisconsin Vision select boutiques and all store locations. “We want to change the way children wear glasses,” says Ellsworth.

Learn more:

going to Kiva, an online microlending bank that helps support entrepreneurs worldwide. “The students developed a timeline and pricing, did some marketing, determined expenses and profits, and assessed areas of improvement,” Brockman says. They gave their profits to four businesses in Kenya, Peru, Cambodia, and Pakistan.

That product was an aluminum water bottle with lettering that was laseretched in FVTC’s Fab Lab, with proceeds

focus spring 2011



>> NOW

By Chris Jossart

Innovation 365 Fox Valley Technical College’s commitment to providing innovative training and services continues to help develop a skilled workforce and sharpen our region’s competitive edge.

Innovation is Partnerships Longstanding partnerships with local and international businesses have helped FVTC incorporate the latest training, equipment, and industry knowledge into its curriculum. These tools prepare students for careers in an economy that demands lean operations, hands-on knowledge of high-tech equipment, and innovative problem-solving. FVTC continues to develop partnerships that introduce new technology to various careers such as advanced manufacturing, agriculture, automation, health care, and construction. These collaborations are the result of the college’s unique approach to working regularly with industry advisory committees to identify workplace needs. They ensure that FVTC’s educational programs remain at the forefront of innovation.

Innovation is Multifaceted When a local manufacturing company needed to enhance product development, it turned to FVTC. When an entrepreneur needed to make a prototype to help a child improve her eyesight, she turned to FVTC. When a

community needs police, fire, and EMS workers, FVTC is there to deliver. Regardless of industry, FVTC has the instructional expertise, resources, and relationships to stay abreast of what today’s workforce needs. Knowledge that works and innovation aren’t only found in the college’s state-of-the-art equipment, they are also evident in: • Faculty with industry experience and world-class certifications • Unique, hands-on learning experiences that prepare students for their careers and provide them with an edge in the job market • Flexible learning options such as customized training for working adults • Training on the latest sustainable business practices

Innovation is “What’s Next?” Innovation at FVTC never ends. We are constantly exploring ways to improve the education and training services we provide. Interested in learning more about how FVTC is innovative? See below.

Discover Innovation 365 with tour guide Chris Matheny, vice president for Instructional Services, and learn how FVTC is innovating every day!

Learn more:

6 Fox Valley Technical College

Reaching New Heights

Instructor Jared Huss and Elizabeth Amweg in FVTC’s high-tech flight simulator.

The opportunities are sky high when it comes to careers for graduates of FVTC’s aviation programs. By Chuck Benda

Elizabeth Amweg, 22, started taking flight lessons when she was 15. By the time she graduated high school, the Plymouth, Wis., native had already earned her private pilot’s certificate at a nearby airport. When she started shopping around for a flight school to continue her professional pilot education, she quickly chose Fox Valley Technical College. “I started out looking at some four-year programs,” Amweg explains. “But they were expensive—and they didn’t offer as much as FVTC does in its twoyear program.” A visit to campus made Amweg’s decision even easier. “The people were all friendly,” she says. “The class sizes were small and I discovered I could

focus spring 2011 7

All my instructors had real-world experience working for companies such as Rockwell Collins and Delta.

Melissa Raddatz

Melissa Raddatz

transfer to a four-year program later on and earn a bachelor’s degree.” For Amweg, things couldn’t have worked out better. After only two years at FVTC, she graduated with her associate degree in Aeronautics-Pilot Training in 2009. At the same time, she earned her commercial pilot’s certificate with airplane singleengine, multi-engine, and instrument ratings. She also earned a certified flight instructor certificate. What’s more noteworthy is that Amweg had accumulated more than 300 hours of flight time in only two years—a critical component of qualifying for employment as a pilot. “If I had chosen a four-year

school, it would have taken twice as long and I wouldn’t have acquired nearly as much flight experience or pilot certificates,” says Amweg. Plus, she wouldn’t already have two years of experience working as a flight instructor. Like some FVTC program graduates, Amweg was hired as a flight instructor at the college after completing her degree. She now has more than 1,000 hours of flight time, and recently landed a job as a first officer with American Eagle Airlines, where she will be flying 70-passenger airplanes around the United States and the Caribbean. “We keep our class sizes small [16 students] and really try to give our students as much one-on-one tailored instruction as possible,” says Jared Huss, lead instructor of FVTC’s Pilot Training program. “Elizabeth was the kind of student every instructor looks forward to teaching. She took full advantage of all the resources available to her, and always went above and beyond what was required. Elizabeth carried a tremendous work ethic with her while she worked for us as both a work study and as a flight instructor.”

Before Takeoff Along with the Pilot Training program, FVTC offers programs in Aircraft Electronics and Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics (A&P). Melissa Raddatz completed both programs, and she can attest that they too are top-notch offerings. Raddatz, 28, started in FVTC’s A&P program, where she learned about every aspect of airplane maintenance, inspection, and repair—from welding, repair of composite structures, aircraft engine overhaul, and more. And she came to deeply appreciate the

8 Fox Valley Technical College

breadth of knowledge her instructors brought to the classroom. “All my instructors had real-world experience working for companies such as Rockwell Collins and Delta,” says Raddatz. When she finished the A&P program, Raddatz enrolled in FVTC’s Aircraft Electronics program. She liked the electronics side of things even better than A&P. The two programs contributed toward her landing a new job with Duncan Aviation in Battle Creek, Mich. Her FVTC education helped tremendously with what was an extremely competitive interview process. “There were roughly 100 applicants for two openings,” says Raddatz. Raddatz is now working as a wiring specialist, building and installing wiring harnesses for Duncan, which builds custom airplanes for corporate clients.

I started out looking at some four-year programs,” Amweg explains. “But they were expensive—and they didn’t offer as much as FVTC does in its two-year program.

Added Opportunities FVTC adds new option to pilot training program. Most years, 100% of the graduates of Fox Valley Technical College's pilot training program land a job within six months. With the downturn in the economy, that number dipped a bit last year to 80%. Jared Huss, lead instructor of FVTC’s Pilot Training program, reports that the industry is rebounding. But that doesn’t mean the college is sitting still. “Along with keeping FVTC outfitted with state-of-the-art training equipment, we’re always looking for ways to collaborate with other college programs to increase opportunities for graduates,” says Huss. FVTC is now offering students the opportunity to combine one year of Pilot Training with one year in the college’s Wildland Firefighter program. Students could earn their commercial pilot’s certificate with airplane single-engine, multi-engine, and instrument ratings the first year. Then, with a year in the Wildland Firefighter program, they would be qualified for jobs supporting wildland firefighters such as air patrol pilots (looking for fires), air attack pilots (directing firefighters on the ground from a plane), and air tanker pilots (dropping chemicals on fires). “We hope this is just the first of several collaborative efforts along similar lines,” says Huss. “In the future, we plan to look at adding programs in criminal justice and agriculture that would help qualify students as pilots with the U.S. Border Patrol and other law enforcement agencies, as well as crop dusting operations.”

Elizabeth Amweg Her husband, Austin, also works for Duncan. The two of them met at FVTC, where Austin completed the same courses of study. Raddatz, who is the first woman to have completed both the A&P and Aircraft Electronics programs, has also earned national recognition for her accomplishments. She was featured on the cover of the September/October 2010 issue of Aviation for Women magazine.

Along with keeping FVTC outfitted with state-of-the-art training equipment, we’re always looking for ways to collaborate with other college programs to increase opportunities for graduates.

Jared Huss

Lead Instructor of FVTC’s Pilot Training program

focus spring 2011 9

Above and Beyond Eddie Paul’s first class at Fox Valley Technical College helped him discover his life’s passion—and set him on the path to owning and operating a business at age 22. By Chuck Benda

After graduating from high school in 2007, Eddie Paul didn’t really know what he wanted to do with his life. But the Neenah native owned a 1984 Trans Am he liked to tinker with, and he was curious about auto painting and bodywork. So, he signed up for a class at Fox Valley Technical College. The rest, as they say, is history. “Turns out I was pretty good at it,” says Paul, who went on to earn his associate degree in Vehicle Refinishing and Repair Technology in 2009.

What it Takes Proclaiming he was “pretty good” at painting and bodywork is an understatement. Today, Paul is the proud owner of Appleton-based SS Auto Body and Restoration, LLC. One might think owning a new business is enough to keep busy— but Paul has re-enrolled at FVTC on a part-time basis in the Business Management program.


“I basically worked two or three jobs while going to college full-time,” says Paul, who states he’s not worried about keeping up with the demands of a new business and attending college. Jerry Goodson, FVTC Auto Collision Repair and Refinishing instructor, has no doubt Paul has what it takes to succeed at both. Whether it was working in the classroom, in the shop, or participating in activities such as student government and auto-body repair competitions, Goodson notes that Paul was the kind of student who makes an instructor’s job easy. “I worked with Eddie his second year at Fox Valley Tech,” says Goodson. “Right away, I noticed he was the kind of person who follows through. If he brought up an issue, it wasn’t to complain about it; he tried to improve something.”

Jumping In During his time at FVTC, Paul immersed himself in student life activities. He started out serving as a student representative to the Fox Valley Auto Body Association. Before long, he became a fixture in student government, serving as president of the Student Government Association and as a student member appointed by former Governor Jim Doyle to the Wisconsin Technical College System State Board. He was awarded a number of scholarships Fox Valley Technical College

Just about everything I’ve done in the past few years, Fox Valley Tech has helped me in some way.

Eddie Paul

Owner of SS Auto Body and Restoration, LLC

Under the High-Tech Hood: FVTC offers more automotiverelated training options than any technical college in the state. Auto Collision Repair & Refinishing Technician Technical Diploma

and was twice nominated for the Wisconsin Technical College System Ambassador award, which recognizes the most outstanding student at each of the 16 Wisconsin technical colleges. Paul appreciates the recognition, but he gives credit for his success to the people he met at FVTC. “Just about everything I’ve done in the past few years, Fox Valley Tech has helped me Eddie Paul in some way,” he says, adding quickly that he credits Vicky Barke, director of FVTC’s Student Life department, for getting him involved in student government. “If not for her, I never would have gotten involved in all of the student government boards and other activities.” Paul says those experiences helped him develop the problem-solving skills he uses today in running his business. And he also gives a lot of credit to his instructors. “They gave me the knowledge I needed to get started,” says Paul. “Most instructors in the Vehicle Refinishing and Repair program go above and beyond what they have to do. They’re very well connected with area businesses and what’s going on in the real world regarding auto body repair.” In fact, those connections helped Paul start his new business. He was hanging out with a former instructor, Bob Smith, at the Iola Old Car Show and Swap Meet. A conversation revealed that one of Smith’s first-ever students at FVTC was looking to retire and wanted to sell his business. Smith helped the two get connected, and Paul became a new business owner. “There’s no doubt that the networking I’ve done through Fox Valley Tech has helped me enormously,” says Paul. Without question, Paul is a self-starter and a disciplined, hard worker. With the skills he plans to learn in the Business Management program, there’s no telling where he’ll end up.

Automotive Maintenance Technician Technical Diploma Automotive Technician Technical Diploma Automotive Technician, Imports Technical Diploma Automotive Technology Associate Degree Automotive Technology, GM ASEP Associate Degree Automotive Technology, Imports Associate Degree Vehicle Refinishing & Repair Technology Associate Degree Based on the 2009 FVTC Graduate Placement Report, nearly eight out of 10 students in the college’s automotive programs landed jobs within six months of graduation. Learn more:

focus spring 2011


Miriam Quinonez


Two years ago, Miriam Quinonez’s long-time employer packed up and moved away. FVTC helped her transform that unlucky break into the gateway for a new career. By Sue Wilson


Miriam Quinonez is good at tackling challenges. Recently, her determination and enthusiasm helped her make a challenging transition from displaced worker to successful student in Fox Valley Technical College’s Administrative Professional program. When Miriam left high school to work in a factory at age 18, education was not an option. During the next 10 years, she got married, had four children, and continued working at the factory. She often considered returning to school, but thought that juggling her unpredictable work schedule with caring for her family and attending college would be too difficult. Her circumstances changed in January 2009 when her employer relocated out of the area. Miriam considered this as an opportunity to look at different colleges. “I was nervous about returning to school after so many years,” she says. “But I knew instantly that the Administrative Professional program at FVTC was the one for me. I wanted a versatile degree that would provide me with the skills needed in varied business settings and jobs. The program’s great reputation and high employment rate after graduation convinced me to enroll.” Fox Valley Technical College

Training + Placement = Success According to Cathy Van Eperen, chair of FVTC’s Business Technology department, an administrative professional career offers stability and variety in daily work. “A key selling point for the program is that there are jobs,” she says. “Our most recent graduate placement rate is 95 percent. FVTC’s program trains students to function as true assistants to executive teams. They are prepared to think, speak, and act on behalf of their managers—as well as to help them accomplish critical tasks.” The recently remodeled Business Technology Center at FVTC provides access to the latest technology. The program also offers real-world experiences through guest speakers, industry tours, a capstone project, and internship opportunities.

Instructor Cathy Van Eperen with Miriam

Family” Christmas program, and the Women of Color Advisory Committee, which was formed at Harbor House. Flexibility Matters Pat Rickman, Miriam’s academic advisor and a Business Technology instructor, says Miriam has made the most of Miriam welcomes new challenges while effectively balancing roles as a student, mother, FVTC’s online, accelerated, and wife, and community member. “Miriam is now pursuing a Bilingual Interpretation traditional-style classes. “As a certificate, in addition to the Administrative Professional degree,” she says. mom, there is Miriam is ready to put her knowledge and skills to nothing more work. “In a short time period, I have accomplished important than the things that I never thought possible—like making flexibility that online Because FVTC is so FVTC’s Dean’s List and Phi Theta Kappa, the honor classes give me,” she affordable and close to society for two-year colleges, and I recently earned an says. “I can turn in internship with the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s assignments, my home, it’s a smart Office,” she says. “I will be the first one in my family to participate in class graduate from college, and I hope to inspire other adults choice to continue my discussions, and do and my children to do the same.” tests from home education here. After graduation, Miriam plans to pursue FVTC’s while my kids are at General Studies transfer certificate, and then attend a school or sleeping. four-year college or university for a bachelor’s degree in Miriam Quinonez Accelerated classes, Business Management. “Because FVTC is so affordable which meet once a and close to my home, it’s a smart choice to continue my week for seven education here.” Saturdays, are also a great option since my kids have many afterschool activities Monday through Friday. And I like traditional classes because I can ask questions right away. The class sizes are small, and they are offered from Today’s business leaders continue to rely on highly skilled administrative early morning to late at night.” professionals to help organize and run their daily operations in a lean, Miriam praises her instructors, efficient manner. noting they are great mentors who are always available to provide During the past three years, 91% of Fox Valley Technical College graduates advice. She also values the from the Administrative Professional program have landed jobs in their field opportunity to develop current, within six months of graduation, according to FVTC graduate placement data. in-demand job skills. She has put those skills to work as a volunteer Learn more: for Harbor House (a shelter for domestic violence victims), the Salvation Army’s “Adopt-a-

WANTED: Administrative Professionals

focus spring 2011



on alumni

Q&A with Michell Pascarella Michell Pascarella is a family nurse practitioner with the Fox Cities Community Health Center. By Vicki Stavig Over the course of her career, Michell Pascarella has worked in a wide range of nursing capacities. She started working as a nursing assistant while enrolled in Fox Valley Technical College’s Nursing Associate Degree program. Pascarella has since earned advanced degrees and worked as a registered nurse, and most recently as a certified nurse practitioner. We caught up with Michell to learn about her career progression and why she often tells people, “I love my Tech.”

Why did you attend FVTC? I chose Fox Valley Tech because I was eager to get a grip on my career. I graduated in 1991 with an associate degree in Nursing.

What were some of the skills you gained at FVTC, and how have they helped you in your career? The FVTC model was very clinically focused and hands on; the instructors encouraged and sought opportunities for us. We all have much to learn in our professional journeys, but I had a solid foundation to build on when I graduated.

Did you work while attending school? Yes, I worked as a nursing assistant in nursing homes and home care settings. I had an infant while attending FVTC, who was two when I graduated. My son provided a very clear perspective for me while in school. Having a family reminds you every day that you can and will be successful.


Michell Pascarella

What was your first job after graduating, and how did your FVTC education prepare you?

and insured. We deliver cost-effective primary and preventive services with high clinical standards that are data based.

I worked as a registered nurse at Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh. I also worked as a registered nurse for the ThedaCare system for three years while completing my bachelor’s degree. Once I completed my master’s, I had the opportunity to grow with ThedaCare as a family nurse practitioner for an additional 12 years. FVTC taught me to always have high expectations for my clinical work and that the patient is always the focus. I have continued that level of thinking through my roles over the years.

We heard that you often say, “I love my Tech.” What does that mean?

My FVTC degree provided me with the most clinically diverse and satisfying career anyone could ever ask for.

Michell Pascarella

Where do you work now? At the Fox Cities Community Health Clinic, which is a community-based clinic that serves a broad range of patients, including the homeless, employed, unemployed, professional, uninsured, Fox Valley Technical College

I tell others that I am probably the most proud of my associate degree from Fox Valley Tech. I worked the hardest for that two-year degree. It provided me with the most clinically diverse and satisfying career anyone could ever ask for.

Would you recommend FVTC’s Nursing program to others? Oh, yes! Going to Fox Valley Tech was one of the smartest decisions I ever made. It is a cost-effective way to establish a career in a condensed period of time.

Where do you hope the future will take you? Only God knows. I hope that whatever role I serve in, I will be able to deliver individually tailored care to those I serve and to the very best of my abilities—the way I learned it in the beginning at my Tech.

Learn more:


on the Foundation

Fiscal Responsibility Thanks to a new grant and the collaboration of numerous community partners, Fox Valley Technical College has a unique resource to help people better manage their finances, both during and after college. By Chris Mikko The concept of “financial wellness” is an appropriate one these days. As the national economy continues to sputter and unemployment rates hover close to 10%, many people are focusing on individual finances—and considering how higher education can help them achieve their goals. With that in mind, Fox Valley Technical College and collaborating partners—the Fox Valley Technical College Foundation; the Financial Information and Service Center (FISC), a program of Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin, Inc.; and Community First Credit Union; launched their new initiative. In January, the organizations opened a Financial Wellness Center on FVTC’s Appleton campus. The center, located in the Counseling Services office, is a one-stop resource for students looking for guidance on how to increase their financial stability. It is funded by a grant from the Basic Needs Giving Partnership Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, and supported by the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs, the J. J. Keller Foundation, and other community partners. Students have access to a range of services—everything from educational workshops to one-onone budget and debt counseling, scholarship and financial aid information, asset-building opportunities, and more. “We’ve set up the center as a place of hope,” says Patti Jorgensen, FVTC’s vice president of Student and Community

Development. “Many people seek financial counseling in dire emergencies. We want the center to be a welcoming place where people can go before things reach that emergency stage.” Diane Drew, a FISC financial counselor at the new center, echoes Jorgensen’s sentiments. “One of FISC’s primary goals is to help educate people so they can make wise financial choices,” says Drew, who also graduated from FVTC with an associate degree in Banking and Financial Services. “Over the past years, we’ve seen people who haven’t been able to complete their education because of financial obstacles. The Financial Wellness Center will go a long way toward helping reduce or eliminate those obstacles.”

Many people seek financial counseling in dire emergencies. We want the center to be a welcoming place where people can go before things reach that emergency stage.

Patti Jorgensen FVTC’s vice president of Student and Community Development

OWLS Input In recent years, FVTC has been serving large numbers of nontraditional students such as displaced workers, military veterans, and homemakers. Many of them have been unaware of scholarships, financial aid options, and communitybased resources such as those offered by

Patti Jorgensen (left) and Diane Drew in the new Financial Wellness Center

FISC and Community First Credit Union. Jorgensen adds that members of FVTC’s OWLS (Older, Wiser Learners) student club also offered helpful input. “OWLS is a solid anchor for displaced workers; its members are typically older students who have returned to college because of job losses or life-changing experiences,” she explains. “Club members shared that a lot of people want and need financial education. Their ideas and suggestions were instrumental as we developed the idea for the center.”

Students are Winners at FVTC Golf Outings The FVTC Foundation’s annual golf outings generate scholarship funds for students who need a financial boost. Proceeds from last year’s outings created 103 scholarship awards valued at $61,500. Join us this year at one or both outings: Wednesday, July 20 Foxfire Golf Club, Waupaca

Wednesday, August 3 Royal St. Patrick’s Golf Course, Wrightstown

There are many ways to support FVTC students through the 2011 golf outings. Learn more by visiting or call (920) 735-4859.

Learn more:

focus spring 2011



on the student experience

Above and Beyond A unique arrangement allows Dental Hygiene students to provide a much-needed community service—while receiving many benefits in return. By Vicki Stavig When students in Fox Valley Technical College’s Dental Hygiene program volunteer at the Tri-County Community Dental Clinic (TCCDC), it’s a three-way win. Those students receive hands-on dental office experience, dentists receive assistance in providing services, and patients get top-notch dental care. Located near FVTC’s Appleton campus, the TCCDC opened in 2003 as an all-volunteer facility. Since then, nearly

Dentists look for volunteer efforts and accredited training when they’re reading resumes and interviewing.

Joan Rohrer

Chair of FVTC’s Dental programs

500 volunteers, including 140 dentists, have treated almost 28,000 patients. Many of those volunteers have been FVTC students enrolled in the college’s associate degree Dental Hygiene and technical diploma Dental Assistant programs. “Students volunteer independently and on their own time,” says Joan Rohrer, chair of FVTC’s Dental programs, adding that Dental Hygiene program students are required to complete 20 hours of community service in a dental-related activity during the three-year program. “Our students go above and beyond that— members of the May 2011 class had a 100 percent participation rate during the previous summer, spending 272 hours treating children.” Besides the benefit to the community, those volunteer efforts help students develop the interpersonal skills to balance their technical skills. “One thing I hear from students is that they are initially concerned with the hands-on skills and academics,” Rohrer says. “But as they volunteer at the clinic, they get to see how professionals interact with patients, and consequently, they want to talk more to their patients and learn more about them.” FVTC volunteers perform cleanings, provide fluoride treatments, take X-rays,

Dental Hygiene student Kayla Poxleitner with a young patient.

and replace sealants. The clinic serves residents of Calumet, Outagamie, and Winnebago counties who have no dental insurance and a family income below 200% of the federal poverty level. “The dentists volunteer their time, and patients have continuity of care,” says Rohrer, who also is a member of TCCDC’s clinical advisory committee. Feedback from those dentists is as positive as it is from the student volunteers. “Dentists look for volunteer efforts when they’re reading resumes and interviewing,” Rohrer says.

Learn more:

Special Deliveries How FVTC Truck Driving students gain valuable experience while helping one of the state’s most vital non-profit organizations.

Rob Behnke (left) and Jeff Kujawa.

16 Fox Valley Technical College

A few years back, Jeff Kujawa noticed semi-trucks at Fox Valley Technical College and had an idea. Why not offer students in the college’s Truck Driving program an opportunity to gain real-life experience while simultaneously supplementing his organization’s staff of drivers? Kujawa, operations manager for the non-profit organization Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin (FAEW), contacted Rob Behnke, chair of FVTC’s Truck Driving program, and the two individuals established a partnership that has since seen 17 students volunteer for Feeding America. Thirteen of the volunteers landed jobs as a result of the experience, four of them with Feeding America. Founded in 1982, the organization is the state’s largest food bank and has

It gives our students real-world experience and helps them build tremendous resumes at the same time.

distribution centers in Milwaukee and Omro. Last year it distributed 14 million pounds of food to about 330,000 people. “Product comes in, we sort through it, label it, do a quality check, and distribute it to food pantries, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, churches, and to anyone who prepares food for homeless or abused people,” Kujawa

Rob Behnke Chair of FVTC’s Truck Driving program

says. “Fox Valley Tech students volunteer and help a great organization with a noble cause. In return, we try our hardest to help them land jobs.” Behnke shares Kujawa’s enthusiasm for the partnership. “It gives our students real-world experience and helps them build tremendous resumes at the same time,” he says. “It’s a great opportunity for them, and they’re

helping people in the process.” FVTC’s Truck Driving program consists of a 10-week course for Class A commercial drivers and a four-week course for Class B drivers. “They’re popular programs,” Behnke says. “We’ll be expanding to offer an evening program as well to accommodate more students.” Meanwhile, Kujawa is extremely pleased with the FVTC students. “I can’t say enough about those students, Rob, and his staff,” he says. “It’s a win-win for all of us.”

Learn more:

focus spring 2011


Fox Valley Technical College Focus Magazine Spring 2011  
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