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Students return for new term

CVTC Liberal Arts program students, from left Kassonere King, Ethan Thomson and Alex Martinez work in the BEC commons on the first day of classes for the fall term.

Eau Claire, WI – A group of Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) students sat in the commons of the Business Education Center Monday morning with laptops open and running. They were already reviewing a schedule of homework assignments and upcoming quizzes for the new school term, which just opened that morning.

They had a number of common classes because they were all enrolled in the liberal arts program. CVTC is seeing an increase in the number of students enrolling in liberal arts, which include general education classes in communications, math, science and other areas. The reason for the increased interest in the program is economic.

“It didn’t make logical sense to spend twice the money for the same program,” said Alex Martinez, a second-year student and Eau Claire North graduate. He plans to transfer to UW-Eau Claire to study finance after earning his general education credits at CVTC.

Tuition at CVTC is about $4,000 a year, compared with an average of about $7,000 at Wisconsin’s four-year universities.

“This will be my last full year at CVTC, then I’ll be transferring,” said Ethan Thomson, another Eau Claire North graduate. “I am going to UW-Eau Claire for the Earth and Space Science Education program.”

Kassonere King, who attended both North and Memorial high schools in Eau Claire, wants a four-year degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. She’s in her second semester of liberal arts classes at CVTC.

“It’s cheaper than a lot of other places and I wanted to stay in my hometown for my first year,” she said. “I’m not sure if I’m going to stay here or transfer to a college in the Twin Cities.”

Most students arriving for the first day of classes were focused on specific CVTC programs. Cheryl Huebner and Danielle Fregine met one another at the Health Education Center, ready to start their classes in the AODA program. They both had personal reasons for their career choices.

I have been through chemical dependency. It’s my goal to give back. I want to work with teenagers,” said Huebner, who admitted to being a bit nervous on the first day. “I haven’t been to school in 30 years.”

Like many CVTC students, Huebner will be balancing raising a family and holding down a full-time job with her studies. “But this is my chance. I have to change my career,” she said.

“Someone very, very close to me decided to use a variety of drugs, which motivated me to not only help people who use drugs, but the people they affect,” Fregine said.

Over at the Manufacturing Education Center, Steve Forster of Mondovi and Corie Bergeron of Chippewa Falls were ready to get started in the Electromechanical Technology program. They both come with manufacturing experience.

“I’ve been working in manufacturing for seven years,” said Forster. “One of my jobs was at Phillips Plastics and I was intrigued by the automation. I thought I would go back to school and get a degree and learn how to fix them myself.”

Bergeron worked with automated equipment at National Presto. “I had a lot of interaction with engineers in the manufacturing department,” he said. “I like the troubleshooting and problem solving, using my brain.”

New this year at CVTC is a two-year Industrial Mechanical Technician program, an extension of the one-year Industrial Mechanic program. This program prepares graduates to install, maintain, operate, diagnose and repair equipment used in manufacturing industries.

Also new in the manufacturing area is a water jet metal cutter in the Welding program. The equipment uses water under high pressure to cut metal, avoiding the damage to the metal that heat cutting can cause.

A major facility change can be found at the Business Education Center, where a new dividable conference center has replaced the former auditorium. The center gives CVTC an ideal space for holding large meetings and banquets. Use of the conference center is open to the public.

Chippewa Valley Technical College delivers superior, progressive technical education which improves the lives of students, meets the workforce needs of the region, and strengthens the larger community. Campuses are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls. CVTC serves an 11-county area in west central Wisconsin. CVTC is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and is one of 16 WTCS colleges located throughout the state.