Careers Start with Starting Point

Careers Start with Starting Point

FVTC grads share how program has shaped their future

| By: Daley-Hinkens, Carmelyn M

Kaitlin Feest knew she needed direction. But she was not sure how to get started.

“There’s an eight-year gap between me ending high school and me returning to college,” explains Kaitlin, a single parent who has been sober for more than four years after struggling with addiction. “Part of it was because I did not know what I wanted to do, but also because I did not think I had it in me to take on college. Then my mom gave me a flyer about Starting Point.”

Krystal Brouse could relate to Kaitlin.

“I always had big dreams as a child but somewhere along the line, all of that got lost,” Krystal adds, herself a single parent. “I was battling my own addiction and fleeing a domestic abuse situation. Then I received an email about the program. I was just going to come to campus and learn more about it, but after that meeting, I hit the ground running.”

Kaitlin and Krystal credit Starting Point for being a life-changing and career-changing experience at FVTC. Specifically for women ages 18 and older, with or without children, the program is designed to help participants remove barriers that may be preventing them from attending college.

The 13-week class touches on a wide range of topics to help prepare the women for life beyond the program. It includes lessons on mental and physical health, motivation and self-esteem, and resources to help navigate financial hurdles like housing, college tuition, daycare and transportation.

“I always tell the women, use the crud in your life as credentials,” explains Kara Nowak, instructor of Starting Point. “I tell them to use that knowledge that they’ve learned to help someone else; use that knowledge and life experiences to excel at your career.”

Kaitlin and Krystal took Kara’s advice to heart. After completing Starting Point, both women continued at Fox Valley Technical College and graduated in May with an associate degree in Substance Use Disorder Counseling (SUDC). Kaitlin is a certified recovery coach and Krystal is a counselor at a residential facility for women recovering from addiction.

The women are proud of the alternative route they took to get where they are today. They hope other women are inspired by them and will consider Starting Point.

“This program has been everything to me,” Krystal says. “I learned a lot about myself, and I have come to terms with who I am, which is something that got lost in the past. It has been hard for me to be proud of my accomplishments because of past struggles and hardships. But now I get chills when I remember where I came from and where I am headed.”

 “I think it’s incredible that we have this program here at Fox Valley Tech,” Kaitlin shares. “It creates a bond between all the women in the group. It is a support system that we continue to have even when we are no longer a part of the program.”

You can learn more about Kaitlin and Krystal's journey by watching the video below: