EAU CLAIRE – Casey Peterson will not exactly be getting a new job after graduating from Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) Tuesday, Dec. 17. The 2010 Colfax High School graduate will still be reporting to the Premium Waters plant in Chippewa Falls. He’ll just have a much higher level of responsibility.
“As of Dec. 30 I’ll be a full-time purchasing agent. The raw materials coordinator is transitioning to a new job in the company, and I’ll be transitioning into her job. It’s huge. There’s a lot to oversee,” Peterson said.
Peterson was one of 373 students in 33 different programs who graduated at CVTC at the conclusion of the fall term. The most popular programs were Nursing- Associate Degree with 70 graduates; followed by Business Management, 25; IT Network Specialist, 23; Truck Driving, 23; and Medical Assistant, 22. At the River Falls campus, 39 graduates received degrees in five different programs, with 32 in the Nursing- Associate Degree program.
History has shown that the vast majority of CVTC graduates will be employed within the first few months after graduation, with a high percentage employed in their field of study. Like many others, Peterson is off to a good start, and has his sights set on even better things.
“I’ve always considered myself to be a good leader and someday I’d like to be a plant manager or be in a position to oversee many different people,” he said.
Peterson has worked at Premium Waters for three and a half years, starting right after high school.
“For the first three years, I was a vacation-relief production employee. During summers I’d work 60 hours a week while people were on vacation,” he said.
After a semester at a university while considering a career in elementary education, Peterson enrolled in CVTC’s Business Management program. His work at Premium Waters became an internship doing supply chain work, purchasing new materials for the plant, which manufactures its own bottles.
Peterson is well aware of the importance of his education at CVTC in advancing his career at Premium Waters, and he’s anxious to show what a CVTC graduate can do.
“This is the first hire of a person with a technical degree in supply chain,” he said.
Lisa Marlette, a 2003 Colfax High School graduate, worked for Marshfield Clinic for several years after completing the Medical Assistant program. She decided to go back to school to become a nurse, and has been working as an LPN at Dove Healthcare. She’s hoping to do emergency room nursing.
“I did my internship in the ER at Red Cedar in Menomonie. There were always different things to see and learn,” Marlette said.
CVTC graduates are succeeding in many different fields. The guest speaker at the commencement ceremony was Jeff Urlaub, founder and president of MEP Associates, an Eau Claire-based engineering firm. Urlaub won both the CVTC Alumni Association and the Wisconsin Technical College System’s distinguished alumnus awards this year.
“If you find what you love to do as a career in life, going to work each day feels more like a hobby than work,” Urlaub said. “You will know when this happens because you cannot believe how fast each day goes by. Keep setting goals and continue learning each day so you can be the best you can be in your profession.”
Faculty speaker Julie Pepper, a Medical Assistant program instructor and winner of the Fuerstenberg Teaching Excellence Award, praised the graduates as heroes, reflecting a staff development theme for the year.
“Every one of you sitting in these chairs is a hero, and you have been on your own hero’s journey. Every one of you has faced adversity, and every one of you has had help along the way. . . Now it is time for you to help others on their journey,” Pepper said.
The student speaker was Suzanne Schrader, a Marketing Management graduate originally from the Durand area who has overcome many challenges along her path. “All of the bumps in the road are just there to test your strength, so no matter how many times you hear the word ‘no,’ never give up,” she told the graduates.
Chippewa Valley Technical College delivers superior, progressive technical education which improves the lives of students, meets the workforce needs of the region, and strengthens the larger community. Campuses are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls. CVTC serves an 11-county area in west central Wisconsin. CVTC is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and is one of 16 WTCS colleges located throughout the state.