Mar 1, 2013
A scholarship from the Bemis Company Foundation is helping 50-year-old Mark Vander Velden gain another shot at college and a new look at life.
Mark Vander Velden knows what it’s like to take a leap forward in life. A successful brick-layer for 25 years, he chose to take a downturn in the housing market as an opportunity to redefine himself and his career. Today, the Hortonville native is well on his way toward finishing Fox Valley Technical College’s Electro-Mechanical Technology program and starting a new career.
The decision to return to school was a hard one for Vander Velden. “I dropped out of college after one year a long time ago,” he says. “I wondered if I’d ever fit in, or had the world passed me by? Once I started getting good grades, however, I knew I had made the right choice.”
As part of his new college experience, Vander Velden had never even thought about applying for a scholarship. “One of my instructors gave me a heads-up and encouraged me to apply,” he says. “I feel really honored to have received a scholarship from the Bemis Company Foundation.”
The Bemis Company Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bemis Company, Inc.—a multi-national company and a major supplier of flexible packaging used by leading food, consumer products, medical, and pharmaceutical companies worldwide, established two scholarships at FVTC in 1999 for students in both the Electro-Mechanical Technology and Package & Label Printing programs.
“Our foundation understands that in order to keep the next generation of advanced manufacturing workers prepared for high-tech careers, it needs to partner with schools like Fox Valley Technical College,” says Kim Wetzel of the Bemis Company Foundation in Neenah. “Fox Valley Tech is a key contributor in growing and developing our region’s workforce, particularly in manufacturing.”
The Bemis Company Foundation annually awards FVTC Electro-Mechanical Technology students with two $1,500 scholarships and four $500 scholarships to students in the college’s Package & Label Printing program. Vander Velden received his scholarship in 2012, and that boosted his confidence even further.
Vander Velden went from being worried about attending college to now providing support for other students. He is currently serving both as an intern in the electronics lab and as a peer advisor in counseling services. “The goal for everyone here is to help all students succeed,” he says. “I can tell that my experience is making a difference in the lives of many students.”
While helping others, Vander Velden is looking forward to launching his new career. “I haven’t exactly pinpointed what I’m looking for,” he states. “I want to evaluate all of my opportunities. There is a lot out there!” For now, Vander Velden is content soaking up life as a college student—the second time around!
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