When Theresa Cross discovered she was about to become a single mom, she knew she needed to find a better job. She never dreamed that a class at FVTC would uncover her aptitude for accounting, and change her life forever.
Growing up, Theresa Cross was always on the move, and a little bit of a maverick.
“My family is pretty nontraditional,” she says. “My mom and I were on our own and we moved around a lot. In my younger years, it seemed like I went to a different school every year.”
Theresa moved to Kaukauna when she was in high school. “I struggled right away,” she recalls. “It seemed like I had to spend most of my time and energy trying to fit in—and I just wanted to learn. It was such a waste, and I ended up quitting.”
Although Cross quit high school, she wasn’t about to quit learning. Her mom hired a student from Lawrence University in Appleton to tutor her in math. Theresa bought General Educational Development (GED) preparation books for other subjects she needed to master to earn her GED credential and complete the work herself.
After completing her GED studies, Cross decided to “see the world.” She went to Louisiana to meet her father. She spent time following the fusion jam band Phish around the country from concert to concert. Her nomadic lifestyle limited her career opportunities, so she grabbed what work she could—for the most part tending bar or working as a waitress.
And then one day when Cross was 26, everything changed. “I found out I was pregnant,” she says. “I knew I had to reevaluate my lifestyle and future.”
Thinking she might build on her work experience, she signed up for a business math class at Fox Valley Technical College’s Appleton campus. She did so well that her instructor, David Nunenkamp, took notice. “He told me I had the brain of an accountant,” Cross recalls. “And he told me I might find job opportunities and great pay in accounting.”
A little encouragement was all she needed. She enrolled in FVTC’s associate degree Accounting program and began taking classes.
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