From the Military to the Workforce to the Classroom

From the Military to the Workforce to the Classroom

Veterans Services helped graduate get set up for success

| By: Daley-Hinkens, Carmelyn M

Chilton resident Leona Propson was working at Briess Malt and Ingredients Company for more than a decade when company leadership gave her a nudge. Or, a well-intentioned shove might be a better way to put it.

“I had already taken some college courses, but the president of our company said I needed to complete my degree,” Leona said. “It would just be more beneficial for me professionally if I would finish school.”

With that professional push, Leona’s next step was to go to Fox Valley Technical College’s Chilton Regional Center (CRC).

“I knew the program I wanted to study but wasn’t sure how to get started,” Leona said. “At the time, my children were younger and I was working full-time. It was all so new to me, but staff at the CRC made it easy to get started.”

Also kickstarting Leona’s education was help from Veterans Services at FVTC. Leona joined the U.S. Army when she was 17 years old and served on active duty for almost ten years before she and her husband returned to the Chilton area. Working with a veterans benefits specialist at FVTC, Leona was able to access her veteran education benefits to pay for classes.

“I thought accessing my benefits would be complicated. Again, it was an unknown and foreign to me,” Leona said. “But the Veterans Services staff simplified the process. They went through all my classes with me to make sure they were covered under the benefits program.”

Jeremy Hanson, a veterans education benefit specialist, points out that veterans know they have access to benefits but may not always know how to apply for them. An equal concern is many veterans rely on their VA benefits to live off of and they need to be able to budget.

“We try to empower our veterans to be able to navigate and learn their benefits,” Jeremy said. “We help guide the student through the forms and sites together.”  

Leona began classes at the CRC and earned an associate degree in Management Development in 2017. She kept going and earned a technical diploma in Business Operations and a certificate in Business Fundamentals in 2018. She can't speak highly enough about returning to FVTC and finishing her degree. And, that type of reaction is what motivates the Veterans Services team.

“What’s most satisfying for me is when we can assist students with whatever they are in need of and to direct them to the right next step,” said Bill Trombley, academic and resource advisor. “Once any obstacle has been overcome, the students can then focus on their classes or whatever they need to do next.”