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Eau Claire, WI – Darrin Schreiber, 46, of Menomonie, knew it was going to be a challenge being back in school after a long absence, but it was time. He found a welcoming atmosphere in Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Information Technology-Network Specialist program and after his graduation Tuesday, Dec. 18, is ready to embark on a new career.
Schreiber, who is originally from Glenwood City, was one of 318 graduates in 42 programs honored at the Fall Commencement held at UW-Eau Claire’s Zorn Arena. The largest program was Nursing-Associate Degree with 74 graduates, followed by Business Management with 23 graduates and Truck Driving with 21. Schreiber was one of 13 graduates in the IT-Network Specialist program. In addition, 23 people received HSED or GED high school credentials.
The number of graduates was similar to the 315 in 38 programs for the December 2017 graduating class. The May 2018 graduation honored 630 graduates in 52 programs.
“It was the first time since high school I had been in school,” Schreiber said. “It was difficult going back.”
But Schreiber felt it was time to find a good career and settle into it. “I had just come from driving truck for about four years and before that I did a lot of other work, like construction, but I didn’t find anything I liked.”
Schreiber worked in manufacturing doing some assembly work for a time, and ended up with tendonitis in both elbows. “I needed something less physical, and I always liked working with computers,” he said.
In the classroom, Schreiber realized many of the younger students were ahead of him, having worked with computers throughout their earlier education, but he caught on quickly, and help was all around. “We had a pretty tight class and helped each other out a lot,” he said.
Schreiber doesn’t have a job lined up yet, but demand is high now, and he expects to find something soon.
The faculty speaker for the ceremony was Steve Gutsch, an instructor in the Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology program for 19 years. He urged the graduates to keep adding to their knowledge.
“How many of you have heard the term, ‘knowledge is power?’ ” Gutsch asked. “Here at CVTC, the phrase gets changed to ‘the application of knowledge is power.’ Never stop learning and never stop applying what you learned.”
In his commencement speech, Wayne McAtee, manager of the Cardinal FG glass plant in Menomonie, challenged graduates to challenge themselves.
“By being here tonight, you have proven that you have the foundation: time management skills, problem-solving abilities, seeing projects through to completion,” McAtee said. “Now you can set yourself apart and I would tell you that you can do that by being open-minded and not afraid to leave your comfort zone.”
With over 90 programs and both online and on-campus classes, 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 community. CVTC programs are designed with input of business and industry to prepare graduates for today’s jobs, with 93 percent employed within six months of graduation and associate degree graduates earning an average annual salary of $44,000.