Fox Valley Technical College | Focus Magazine | Spring 2018

Page 1


volume 11, issue 1 • Spring 2018

Fox Valley Technical College



Ryan Geiger found his debt-free fast pass to a great career while in high school.

your future

Inside: Wautoma siblings enjoy rewarding careers at global companies. Page 5 IT grad is an MVP for Microsoft. Page 10 Business grad opens an award-winning bridal store. Page 15

welcome! From a young age, I wanted to make the world a better place, but didn’t know exactly how. I knew my future happiness wouldn’t fall into my lap—I had to do something to make it happen. Little did I know that choosing FVTC would be one of the most rewarding decisions of my life. Today I am the proud founder of, a website that’s helping people all around the world find solutions for their anxiety. My education at FVTC, along with support and inspiration from many teachers, gave me purpose in life and fulfilled a dream. Welcome to Fox Valley Tech. Bodell Ostertag, 2016 Alumna, Business Management, Entrepreneurship Emphasis


10-Year Anniversary Issue Focus is published bi-annually for the communities of Fox Valley Technical College.

features 8


Speed to Market Ryan Geiger found his debt-free fast pass to a great career while in high school.


Tech Star This IT star demonstrates the value women bring to technology-related careers.


At Home in Manufacturing Kenya-born Michael Warigi is achieving his dream of being a manufacturing programmer.

focus on social

Your Words 6 InDescribe Fox Valley Tech in 10 words or less.

On the Cover: Ryan Geiger of Ariens Company

in every issue


Director of College Marketing Barb Dreger Executive Editor/Manager of Media Relations Chris Jossart Art Director Cara Jakubiec Contributing Editors Casey Britten, Susan Lucius


Around FVTC See what’s making news.


Focus on High-Demand Careers A retired army veteran balances a busy life while pursuing a double major in the financial sector.

Photographers Gary Brilowski, Gary Gawinski, Adam Shea


Focus on Alumni Wautoma siblings are enjoying rewarding careers at global companies.

Fox Valley Technical College


Focus on the Student Experience Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society members are helping others attain a college education.


Focus on Workplace Training A global manufacturer improves production by going lean thanks to FVTC.


Focus on the Entrepreneur A recent business grad opens a growing and award-winning bridal store.


Focus on the Foundation The FVTC Foundation made it possible for an OTA student to connect her passions with a great career.

Contributing Writers Joan Neumahr, Amy Vander Stoep

President Dr. Susan A. May

1825 N. Bluemound Dr. P.O. Box 2277 Appleton, WI 54912-2277 1-800-735-3882 TTY (hearing impaired) 920-735-2569 (email inquiries) Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission since 1974. FVTC offers more than 200 associate degree, technical diploma and certificate programs, and instruction related to 15 apprenticeship trades, in addition to providing services to business and industry. The college serves about 45,000 people annually, more than any other technical college in Wisconsin.

© 2018 Fox Valley Technical College. Fox Valley Technical College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in employment, admissions or its programs or activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the College’s nondiscrimination policies: Rayon Brown, FVTC Appleton Campus, Office E120A, 920-735-4820.

around FVTC Driving Innovation Virtual reality is changing the way diesel technicians train. Students in Fox Valley Technical College’s Diesel Technology programs

Tou Xiong and Josh Janikowski (left) with instructors Jay Duca and Mike Farrell (right)

can now troubleshoot an engine anywhere from any angle like never before.

Thanks to the design work of Tou

Xiong and Josh Janikowski on FVTC’s Learning Innovations team, a new virtual reality engine is now part of the college’s Diesel Technology curriculum. The engine responds to voice commands and includes a number of advanced vantage points to optimize hands-on learning. For example, the shell of the engine is removable by voice command so students can gain a close-up view of operating parts like a crankshaft, pistons, valves, connecting rods and more.

Diesel Tech Instructor Jay Duca originated the idea for the learning tool. He believes the high-tech engine will also get

people excited about choosing the diesel technology field as a career path.

Currently the New North region is experiencing a shortage of skilled diesel technicians. According to FVTC’s most recent

Graduate Employment Research Report, there are 23 full-time job postings per month for diesel technicians. Graduates of the college’s Diesel Equipment Technology associate degree program are making about $70,000 a year after being in the workforce for five years.

Take A Class A new online shopping experience is now available. Search for personal enrichment and career development classes by category, location, day of week, or time of day and even register online. Learn more at

2 Fox Valley Technical College

Read | Watch | Share See something you’d like to share? All of the articles in this magazine are available online, with additional links, photos and videos. Visit to easily share content on Facebook, Twitter and more.

News Briefs • Susan Lucius, manager of marketing communications, earned a 2017 Rising Star award from the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations. She was recognized for her exemplary creativity as a marketing communications leader.

• Brad Russ, director of the college’s National Criminal Justice Training Center, served on an expert panel with a national audience on Fox 11, WLUK regarding issues related to human trafficking. Susan Lucius

• The Wisconsin Society of American Foresters recognized Natural Resources Instructor Anthony Rynish with the 2017 Mike King Forester of the Year award for his outstanding contributions in helping landowners manage their wildlife preservation.

• A new regional center will open in

• A group of single mothers completed

Brad Russ a program designed to teach familystrengthening skills while preparing for college and career success. The Starting Point 2.0 initiative is a collaboration with B.A.B.E.S Child Abuse Prevention and the Women’s Fund of the Fox Valley Region.

Anthony Rynish

Wautoma this fall to better serve the educational and training needs unique to that part of the college’s district.

(from left): Alex Mischler, Kaylee Martin, Faith Meiers, Megan Johnson, Shay Heyward, Renee Abhold, and Kathleen Fay with their children

A Credit Score Credit transfer partnerships serve as winning opportunities for students. The region’s latest educational partnership focuses on the transfer of business credits between the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) and Fox Valley Technical College. Students who earn an associate degree in Business Management from FVTC can transfer up to 60 credits to UWGB with junior standing, saving nearly $11,000. A new guaranteed transfer agreement also took place between FVTC and Lakeland University (LU) during a celebration of a 40-year partnership between the two institutions. More than 20 FVTC programs align with nine LU majors. These career areas range from business and information technology to health and hospitality. • • • Learn More:

focus spring 2018



on high-demand careers


full-time career opportunities for accountants and financial professionals listed per month in the New North region 2017 FVTC Graduate Employment Research Report

Checks & Balances Michael Gawel, with Accounting Instructor Tracy Kizewski

A retired army veteran balances a busy life while pursuing a double major in the financial sector.

Completing a double major in Accounting and Banking & Finance at Fox Valley Technical College is the latest chapter in the life of 32-year-old Michael Gawel. “I served as a combat engineer in the Army and planned on a lifelong military career,” he states. “However, when I was injured and became medically retired, I had to change course.” Although his military service had ended, the Wisconsin Dells native wanted to continue serving others. “I have an aptitude for accounting, so I enrolled to pursue a double major,” Gawel says. “I want to be a certified financial planner who can help others, especially veterans, successfully manage their money.” Gawel is interning at Fox Valley Tech’s Veterans Resource Center in a brand-new position. “My job is to help future students find ways to finance their education,” he says. “I’m working in the Financial Services department as well, providing similar assistance.” A busy man, Gawel also serves as president of the FVTC Student Veterans Club and Student Government Association, in addition to being elected Student Government president for the Wisconsin Technical College System. On top of everything else, he is working toward a bachelor’s degree in Accounting at Lakeland University. Gawel believes there will always be a great demand for professionals with banking and accounting skills. “As a career numbercruncher, people rely on us to teach them how to understand taxes, financial planning, investments and more,” he adds. • • • Learn more:

44 Fox FoxValley ValleyTechnical TechnicalCollege College

I want to be a certified financial planner who can help others, especially veterans, successfully manage their money.

Michael Gawel


on alumni

Q&A : In the Family Wautoma siblings Michelle Manthey and Tim Parsons are enjoying rewarding careers at global companies.

What did you enjoy most about your FVTC education?

Why are your skills so valued in the workplace?

Michelle: When I started in Fox Valley Tech’s Administrative Assistant Information Processing program, computers were becoming the future. Both my computer and administrative skill sets gave me a solid foundation to enter the workforce after graduation.

Michelle: A solid understanding of computers and software programs brings value to any company. In addition, soft skills like communications are needed in the workplace as well. The combination of those skill sets helps me effectively lead both people and processes.

Tim: As a student pursuing an Electronics Technology degree at Fox Valley Tech, I learned how to adapt to rapidlychanging environments. Learning theory and then applying that knowledge in a lab setting gave me foundational skills to develop extraordinary results in the workplace.

Tim: Undoubtedly, the leadership tools and technical, hands-on learning I received at Fox Valley Tech have advanced my ability to grow a workplace culture based on strong teams. Teams that can deliver breakthrough results make a company thrive.

Both Michelle and Tim launched their successful career pathways at FVTC: Michelle:


1993: Earned associate degree in Administrative Assistant Information Processing from FVTC

1988: Earned associate degree in Electronics Technology from FVTC

1996: Joined Kohler Company in Technical Publications department after working five years in insurance industry

1990: Earned certification in National Electrical Code and Refrigeration while working in related trades since graduation and up to start of Nestlé career

2003: Earned bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Lakeland College

1996: Began rewarding career at Nestlé, holding various positions in engineering, maintenance and management 2010: Earned master’s degree in Business Administration from at four plants located in Maryland, Virginia and Wisconsin Lakeland College 2014: Promoted to systems support manager – IT Kohler Co. Power Systems

2005: Earned bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from Milwaukee School of Engineering 2017: Promoted to manager of facilities engineering and maintenance at Nestlé

focus spring 2018



on social

Describe Fox Valley Tech in 10 words or less.

We asked our campus community to weigh in. Here are some of our favorite responses!

Rachel, Facebook Affordable and best college in the area.

Amanda, Facebook Knowledgeable, encouraging, optimistic, exciting and a safe place to learn.

Kelly, Facebook FVTC feels like home!

Randy, LinkedIn Great learning environment! People are friendly and eager to help.

Maria, Facebook International diversity, enrichment, culture, community service and big friendships!

Hunter, Facebook Best life-altering decision I ever made.

Lateshia, Facebook FVTC helps u be great!!

Something to share? We want to hear from you. Follow us and chime in on future Focus on Social questions. We just might include your comments in the next issue of Focus.



@FoxValleyTech Fox FoxValley ValleyTechnical TechnicalCollege College


Fox Valley Technical College


on the student experience

Being a member of PTK is a great way to expand your own world while helping others.

Melissa Groeschel

Applying Honor Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society members are helping others attain a college education. Current FVTC students have stepped up to help scholars of the Fox Valley Technical College Foundation Promise program.The Promise provides free tuition for lowerincome high school seniors who plan to attend the college. One of those students is 42-year-old Melissa Groeschel, president of FVTC’s Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society, an international organization that recognizes and encourages academic achievement among two-year college students. “Part of the application process to receive a Promise scholarship includes completing the government’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA,” says Groeschel. Under Groeschel’s leadership, PTK is now working with the Foundation to help incoming Promise students. “Filling out the FAFSA is an intimidating process for anyone, and it

Melissa Groeschel (left)

involves some paperwork,” states Groeschel. “PTK members are honored to provide assistance.” PTK’s efforts in guiding the long, yet necessary, application with families thus far has proved to be successful. “Parents of incoming students appreciate the support, and we just won our first international award because of this project,” says Groeschel. Helping others comes naturally to Groeschel. The Oshkosh resident has been taking courses in FVTC’s Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse program and will be transferring her credits to the University of

PROMISING FUTURES The FVTC Promise is an opportunity for free education that exists for qualifying high school students. Learn more:

Wisconsin-Oshkosh toward a bachelor’s degree in Human Service Leadership. “Being a member of PTK is a great way to expand your own world while helping others,” concludes Groeschel. • • • Learn more:

focus spring 2018


Speed to Market

Ryan Geiger found his debt-free fast pass to a great career while in high school.

There are incredible opportunities for people with the right skills, and you can earn an education for next to nothing while rapidly hitting the workforce. Ryan Geiger

• • • Hear from Ryan and see a time-lapse of the making of the Career Fast Pass at

88 Fox FoxValley ValleyTechnical TechnicalCollege College

Even as a high school student, Brillion native Ryan Geiger

Geiger thinks he got the best of both worlds.

knew that hands-on learning would be his ticket to success.

“Apprenticeships are great because you get paid to go to

On the advice of a teacher, he enrolled in Fox Valley

school while riding a fast track to a career,” he says. “Plus,

Technical College’s dual credit Machine Tool Technician

FVTC instructors have worked in industry. You cannot get

program while attending Brillion High School.

their professional knowledge from textbooks.”

“Thanks to Fox Valley Tech, I graduated high school with

Geiger emphasizes there is a real need for trade specialists

three college credits and a job as a tool and die apprentice

like machinists. “So many experts are retiring, and there aren’t

technician,” he says. “I was able to make money while going

a lot of qualified people to replace them,” he notes. “There are

to the Tech, and I paid very little for tuition.”

incredible opportunities for people with the right skills, and you

Today, at age 24, Geiger is a tool and die journeyman for Ariens Company, a leading manufacturer of outdoor power equipment. “I make dies that form the steel you see on lawnmowers and snow blowers,” he says. “It’s amazing to see

can earn an education for next to nothing while rapidly hitting the workforce.” • • • Learn more:

new products knowing that you had a part in how they look.” While FVTC helped Geiger quickly launch his career, he admits the days were long. “I started school at 6:15 in the morning and then worked at Ariens in the afternoon,” he recalls. “I’m still going to the Tech, pursuing an associate degree in Mechanical Design Technology, albeit at a slower pace.”


high school students taking dual credits through FVTC.

Ryan Geiger of Ariens Company

focus spring spring2018 2018 9 focus

Jes Borland

I get to travel the world while having the advantage of working from home, and I’m doing it all with a two-year degree! Jes Borland

Tech Star Going to Fox Valley Technical College was the best career

with an IT Software Developer associate degree, Borland

decision Jes Borland ever made. “I was working in customer

realized that lifelong passion of solving problems helped her

service at a tech company when I decided to return to

understand computer program languages.

school,” says the Neenah native. “I chose Fox Valley Tech

“I took both the software programming and database

because it was the best fit financially, and I could get hands-

programming tracks,” she recalls. “Programming skills are

on programming classes in Information Technology (IT) right

vital. Working in the database field is all about knowing how

away,” she says.

to write code, understand the language and what a client is

Borland, 36, has always enjoyed solving story problems in math class. When she graduated from FVTC in 2009


This IT star demonstrates the value women bring to technology-related careers. Fox Valley Technical College


“Fox Valley Tech plays a critical role in preparing people of all ages for the digital workplace.” Brad Smith, President of Microsoft

After graduation, Borland worked as a database administrator for Kimberly-Clark and then served as a consultant for two other companies. She also started a tech blog and began giving lectures. “My blog and lectures drew a lot of attention, and I soon won the prestigious international Microsoft MVP award,” she says. “I am now a premier field engineer for Microsoft, part of a team that provides support, training and education to Microsoft’s premier customers.” Borland loves her job. “I get to travel the world while having the advantage of working from home,” she says. “And, I’m doing it all with a twoyear degree!” Eventually Borland wants to work on a Microsoft team that writes code. She also currently takes time to encourage women to consider a technology career. “Women are great problemsolvers,” she says. “I want them to know that IT careers offer financial independence with opportunities to work anywhere for corporations big and small or on your own.”

• • • Learn more:


graduates of FVTC's IT programs


graduate employment 2017 FVTC Graduate Employment Research Report

focus spring 2018


The AMS program gives you a broad range of skills needed to succeed in today’s advanced manufacturing field.

At Home

Michael Warigi

Michael Warigi

in Manufacturing Kenya-born Michael Warigi is achieving his dream of being a manufacturing programmer.

12 Fox Valley Technical College

Michael Warigi has traveled a long way to become a student

broad range of skills needed to succeed in today’s advanced

in Fox Valley Technical College’s Automated Manufacturing

manufacturing field,” he states. “The classes are rigorous,

Systems Technology (AMS) program. “I was born in Nairobi,

but the instructors are exceptional. They are knowledgeable

Kenya, and came to Wisconsin to be with my brother,”

on the latest industry technologies.”

states the 48-year-old. “Nestlé hired me as an assembly-line operator at its Little Chute plant.” After starting at FVTC, Warigi was promoted to team

Warigi is going to school part-time while working fulltime. “I should graduate in May of 2018,” he says. “I plan to continue my education because technology is the future

leader on the night shift at Nestlé. In this role, Warigi

of manufacturing, and the more you know, the more you

supervises a group of 10 people. “I make sure we reach


production goals and am responsible for troubleshooting basic coding problems,” he says. “My Fox Valley Tech

• • • Learn more:

programming courses have been a big help at work.” Warigi notes that all manufacturing today is technologybased. “When you understand the processes, you can easily check and troubleshoot problems,” he says. “My supervisor told me that he is impressed with what I can do. I owe that compliment to the college and the AMS program.” Becoming an automation programmer is currently Warigi’s short-term career goal. “The AMS program gives you a


average annual salary for graduates of FVTC’s Automated Manufacturing Systems Technology program after five years in the workforce 2017 FVTC Graduate Employment Research Report

Michael Warigi is employed at the Nestlé Little Chute plant.

focus spring 2018



on workplace training

Fox Valley Tech’s trainers are truly part of our team. Don Warzynski Kingsbury, Inc.

Don Warzynski with his team

What Lean Means A global manufacturer improves production by going lean thanks to FVTC. The Oshkosh Division of Philadelphia-based Kingsbury

Warzynski believes the success of the partnership between

Inc., a major producer of film bearings for heavy industrial

Kingsbury and FVTC is based on mutual respect. “Fox Valley

machinery, maintains its reliance on Fox Valley Technical

Tech’s trainers are truly part of our team,” he says. “Lean

College for the latest in continuous improvement practices.

for Leaders has a steep learning curve, but it’s helping us

“Through the Lean for Leaders training initiative, the Tech helped us lay the groundwork to eliminate waste and make better decisions,” states Kingsbury Director of Manufacturing,

discover where the opportunities are and how to use new tools for improvements.” A graduate of FVTC himself, Warzynski believes in the

Don Warzynski. “We are learning processes to improve

FVTC approach to education. “I completed an apprenticeship

decision making in purchasing, engineering, manufacturing

through the Tech and earned two associate degrees,” he

and human resources.”

recalls. “The knowledge I gained at Fox Valley Tech helped

Kingsbury has worked with FVTC for over a decade to better serve its customers in the power generation, oil and gas, marine propulsion and pump industries worldwide.

advance my career at Kingsbury.” • • • Learn more:

“We employ Fox Valley Tech apprentices and machine tool graduates, and our company looks to the college for training resources in blueprint reading, tolerance measurements and metrics training, to name a few,” adds Warzynski.

Covering All Bases FVTC’s Business & Industry Services team trained


employees representing


employers during 2016-17.

14 Fox Valley Technical College


on the entrepreneur

I always wanted to be my own boss, and Fox Valley Tech gave me the tools to succeed.

Happily Ever After

Tiffani Ebben, Tiffani’s Bridal & Consignment

A recent business grad opens an award-winning bridal store. Tiffani Ebben, a 29-year-old Kimberly native, enrolled in Fox Valley Technical College’s Business Management program to learn how to become an entrepreneur. “I always wanted to be my own boss, and Fox Valley Tech gave me the tools to succeed,” she says. Ebben thought of a business idea while shopping for her own wedding dress. “I had a very small budget, and there weren’t any stores that offered what I wanted at an affordable price,” she recalls. “This experience gave me an idea to start a consignment wedding boutique that offered exceptional service and reasonably-priced new and gently-used wedding gowns.” With the help of FVTC instructors, Ebben researched the market to make sure her idea was feasible. “They helped me every step of the way, from finding a good location to developing a marketing plan and utilizing customer databases,” she notes. “I even learned how to build and manage my own website.” Three years later, Tiffani’s Bridal & Consignment continues to flourish in downtown Appleton, selling tuxedos, prom dresses, mother-of-the-bride dresses and bridal gowns. In 2017, the business earned a Best of the Valley PostCrescent Readers’ Choice award, and Ebben states that she is considering expanding or opening a second location. Ebben revels in the responsibility to make it as an entrepreneur. “Putting your heart and soul into something with a little direction will bring success,” she says.


graduate employment for the Business Management program, with recent graduates enjoying an average annual salary of nearly

$49,000 2017 FVTC Graduate Employment Research Report

• • • Learn more:

Tiffani Ebben

focus spring 2018



on the foundation

The financial support is wonderful, and I like the way the classes are structured.

Dorea Lauer

Back in the Saddle The FVTC Foundation made it possible for an OTA student to connect her passions with a great career. Dorea Lauer, an 18-year-old from New London, set her sights on a career as an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) after she volunteered at a summer camp for autistic children. “I really want to work with children, and I also love horses,” she says. “I was fascinated by how therapeutic it was for these kids to

Dorea Lauer

ride horses. It gives them confidence.” As an OTA, Lauer realized she could combine her two passions. She paid a visit to her high school counseling office to find out how to become an OTA. “I learned that Fox Valley Technical College not only offers an OTA program, but through its Foundation many different scholarships as well,” Lauer notes. The FVTC Benefit Golf Outing Scholarship helped Lauer through her first year at the college. “The Foundation has a big list of scholarships, and it’s very easy to apply,” she says.

In addition to helping Lauer achieve an FVTC degree, the Foundation’s scholarships will allow her greater flexibility in the future because she won’t be burdened with a lot of debt. “I really love Fox Valley Tech because everyone there wants you to succeed,” she states. “The financial support is wonderful, and I like the way the classes are structured.” • • •Learn more:

“I’m now getting help with the Knights of Columbus Gerald Bentler Council 13702 Veterans Scholarship.”

The FVTC Foundation awarded nearly


overall scholarships, totaling

$650,000 in 2016-17.

16 Fox Valley Technical College

• • • View video:

Get a Degree or Diploma from FVTC Small Cost • Big Career $32,410/year


Compare Fox Valley Technical College tuition with four-year public or private colleges and universities.*

$9,410/year $3,598/year

Private college or university


If you’re looking for an affordable education with high graduate employment rates, Fox Valley Tech is a great choice.

4-year public university




Graduate Employment Rate





• Financial Aid Applications • Work-Study Jobs & Internships • Veteran Education Benefits


• FVTC Foundation Scholarships (Nearly 1,000 scholarships each year with a total value of $650,000)


*Annual tuition is based on averages of 2 semesters with 12 credits each. This is tuition only – books, supplies, etc. are extra.

For more information: focus spring 2018



Get the Credit You Deserve

Whether you’ve got real-world work experience, college credit or both, find out how you can apply this knowledge to a degree at Fox Valley Technical College. Last year, FVTC students saved more than $190,000 by receiving credit for their work experience, plus they got a jump start on earning their degree. Start your free review today!

Prior Learning Credit Team: 920-735-4720 •

Win a $50 d! Amazon gift car Appleton • Chilton • Clintonville • Oshkosh • Waupaca • Wautoma

t reader survey by Complete a shor chance to win. July 1, 2018 for a