Article originally published in the Waushara Argus.
‘Why stop here?’ Carla Ramirez asked herself after accomplishing an educational milestone. The internalization of that very question made the 21-yeard-old Wild Rose native realize that making mistakes nurtures learning and character. At the same time, her achievement ushered an understanding of how success can grow momentum for better things to come. She began to set aside relying on luck for critical thinking.
Ramirez earned her High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) through Fox Valley Technical College’s Wautoma Regional Center a year ago, and that feat propelled her to develop skills and a career passion. “My instructor, Ms. Jarvis, then referred me to Ray Kaluzny at the Prosperity Center in Wautoma to explore next steps regarding career considerations.”
The Prosperity Center is a partnership between FVTC and Goodwill. Its purpose is to bridge post-secondary education to job opportunities by providing important services like case management, life skill development, financial planning, and more.
“That additional resource helped me select Fox Valley Tech’s Medical Assistant program,” notes Ramirez. “Medical assistants show others how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and that is what I like about the profession. I can also take many of my classes toward that degree at FVTC’s nearby Waupaca Regional Center.”
With one semester behind her, Ramirez is off and running toward her ultimate career goal of becoming a registered nurse. “I earned a 3.7 GPA during my first semester all while taking seven classes and working full-time,” she says. “I love what I’m doing that much, and the instructors at the Tech are caring want their students to succeed.”
Even as momentum on a new life builds for Ramirez, she is humble of her beginnings. “In high school I didn’t focus much on my studies,” she recalls. I ended up missing too much school from becoming pregnant and never graduated. Ms. Jarvis and other instructors motivated me to finish the Adult Basic Education (ABE) program. I’m glad they kept after me; now anything’s possible after finishing high school.”
Laurie Jarvis has been serving the college in Wautoma for more than 25 years as an ABE instructor. She says Carla Ramirez epitomizes the can-do spirit of most ABE students once they build a little confidence and discover their strengths. “Carla’s ability to set goals coupled with a thirst for learning helped her complete a high school credential in less than a year.”
Ramirez hit a few barriers before settling in to work toward her goal of completing the ABE program. Time and money, for instance, often barricade college students at some point, and for Ramirez, it meant repeated trips to the drawing board for a little retooling.
“We can overcome challenges by taking them head on,” Ramirez reflects. “I had to re-evaluate my schedule when I started ABE to deal with transportation issues and work conflicts while going to school. There’s always a lending hand at FVTC, and we grow as people when faced with adversity. I want this career journey to also set a good example for my son.”
Like Ramirez’s story builds inspiration for others, Jarvis believes a new FVTC regional center in Wautoma will set the tone for education in east central Wisconsin. “Our services encourage individuals to explore and prepare for a viable career, and the collaboration with the Wautoma Area School District is primed be a change agent for this community,” she concludes.
Jarvis cites that hundreds of individuals have utilized the FVTC Wautoma Regional Center to complete their high school credential. She mentioned that the new center will provide better access for General Education Development (GED) testing and other resources like an approved Pearson Vue Testing Center. In all, a new era of seamless transition from high school to post-secondary education for Wautoma residents is here to stay.
FVTC in Wautoma
2018 marks 40 years of a Fox Valley Technical College regional center in Wautoma. Here’s a snapshot of the new state-of-the-art center, scheduled to open in time for the fall semester in 2018:
- Location is the Wautoma High School campus. Construction to begin in spring with the facility to house the Wautoma Area School District office and Workforce Development Job Center.
- Approximately 12,000 square feet
- Features a nursing lab and adjacent classroom, industrial bay, and welding lab.
- Expanded offerings are planned for CNA, industrial maintenance, and truck driving
- All classrooms will be set up for Blackboard Collaborate. Two of the four classrooms are computer furnished, and all space will be designed for flexible learning.