Friday, May 19, 2017

Buddies Find New Direction at CVTC

Graduates Hudson, Bleskacek off to new careers in construction

Article Photo - Buddies Find New Direction at CVTC

From left, Amanda and Guy Hudson, and Lucas and Kayla Bleskacek gather after the CVTC River Falls campus commencement ceremony Thursday, May 18. Guy and Lucas became good friends both needing a change of careers and entered the Residential Construction program together. Their wives became good friends as well.

Guy Hudson and Lucas Bleskacek built a fence and a friendship together, then moved on to building their careers together.

On Thursday, May 18, River Falls residents Hudson and Bleskacek were among eight CVTC graduates in the Residential Construction program honored at the annual River Falls campus spring commencement. They were among 58 graduates in eight programs, and three GED graduates honored. The largest program was Marketing with 14 graduates, followed by Nursing-Associate Degree with 13. On Friday, May 19, CVTC honored 651 graduates in 50 programs at the Eau Claire campus.

Hudson, 26, and Bleskacek, 27, found each other when they found themselves needing a change of careers.

“I went out to North Dakota and worked in the oil fields,” said Hudson. “I loved it. It was a neat experience, and you grow up fast.”

But it is also inconsistent work, and Hudson was laid off. He landed at Uline in Hudson, where he worked for a year and a half. Married, but with no children yet, he decided he needed a new career.

“I always loved contracting; I did it in high school,” Hudson said. “So I thought CVTC’s Residential Construction program would be a good idea.”

Bleskacek attended CVTC from 2008-10 in the Criminal Justice program. However, the job market in law enforcement was much tighter then and he ended up at a big box retailer for five years. He followed a girlfriend, now his wife, to an internship in southern Wisconsin and moved to River Falls when she got a job as a campus director at an assisted living facility.

Bleskacek also got a job at Uline, where he met Hudson. He mentioned one day about building a fence at his home, and Hudson said he loved to do that kind of work. The two built the fence and became closer friends.

“I couldn’t sit in a factory all day doing the same thing over and over again,” Bleskacek said. “I never saw personal progress in my work.”

Hudson talked to him about his plans in Residential Construction, and Bleskacek was all in on the idea. They went through the program together and both landed jobs at St. Croix Builders in Hudson.

“Our wives have become good friends, too,” Bleskacek said. “We go on a lot of double dates. And our wives are both in health care, so they have a lot in common.”

Bleskacek did not have the kind of background in building that Hudson did, but he loved it just as much. “It was more enjoyable coming here and working for free than it was to work at the retailer for pay,” he said.

Hudson has plans to be a subcontractor for St. Croix builders in a few years, while Bleskacek is thinking of working toward project management.

Ana Mae Larsen, student speaker for the River Falls ceremony, recounted how she came out of high school convinced school wasn’t for her, until some fiends encouraged her to try CVTC. She chose the Marketing program.

“From day one, I was involved in my own education and I no longer had feelings of doubt about my ability to learn,” Larsen said. “During my time at CVTC, I was forced out of my comfort zone and involved in hands-on learning.”

Larsen related her experiences to the struggle all students go through to succeed, and noted that it was a time to remember and to celebrate. “We were involved. We learned. We succeeded. We are graduating,” she said.

The commencement address was delivered by Paul Schwebach, executive director of the Pierce County Economic Development Corporation, a CVTC graduate who went on to a long banking career before taking his current job in retirement.

“I was told early on that I would not accomplish success with only an Associate Degree,” he said. “I feel I have proven that point to be wrong and strongly feel that all of the graduates here tonight can have as successful a career as I have had and am still enjoying.”

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.