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.
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.”
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. [NOTE: this has since increased to 100%.] 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.
Miriam has made the most of FVTC’s online, accelerated, and traditional-style classes. “As a mom, there is nothing more important than the flexibility that online classes give me,” she says. “I can turn in assignments, participate in class discussions, and do tests from home while my kids are at school or sleeping. Accelerated classes, which meet once a week for seven Saturdays, are also a great option since my kids have many after-school 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 early morning to late at night.”
Miriam praises her instructors, noting they are great mentors who are always available to provide advice. She also values the opportunity to develop current, in-demand job skills. She has put those skills to work as a volunteer for Harbor House (a shelter for domestic violence victims), the Salvation Army’s “Adopt-a-Family” Christmas program, and the Women of Color Advisory Committee, which was formed at Harbor House.
Pat Rickman, Miriam’s academic advisor and a Business Technology instructor, says Miriam welcomes new challenges while effectively balancing roles as a student, mother, wife, and community member. “Miriam is now pursuing a Bilingual Interpretation certificate, in addition to the Administrative Professional degree,” she says.
Miriam is ready to put her knowledge and skills to work. “In a short time period, I have accomplished things that I never thought possible—like making FVTC’s Dean’s List and Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for two-year colleges, and I recently earned an internship with the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office,” she says. “I will be the first one in my family to graduate from college, and I hope to inspire other adults and my children to do the same.”
After graduation, Miriam plans to pursue FVTC’s General Studies transfer certificate, and then attend a four-year college or university for a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. “Because FVTC is so affordable and close to my home, it’s a smart choice to continue my education here.”