Friday, May 15, 2020

CVTC Grad Finds Another New Direction

Susan Sunde of Chippewa Falls turned to CVTC at multiple stages of her life

Article Photo - CVTC Grad Finds Another New Direction

Susan Sunde works from home on a simulator after the COVID-19 pandemic forced her and other CVTC students to online learning this spring semester. Sunde graduates from the Automation Engineering Technology program this month.

Susan Sunde has not been afraid to turn the page during her life, and when she has been ready, Chippewa Valley Technical College has been there to help.

On May 15, Sunde, 49, of Chippewa Falls, graduated from CVTC for the third time, this time in the Automation Engineering Technology program. She came back to school to earn more money, and she is doing that, already working in the field.

Sunde was one of 757 graduates in 59 programs honored at a live virtual graduation celebration on CVTC’s Facebook page. The event included messages from President Bruce Barker and former Student Association President Rachael Winterling. The largest program was Nursing-Associated Degree with 101 graduates, followed by Business Management with 45 and Criminal Justice with 43. The in-person commencement ceremony will be held in conjunction with the summer graduation on July 30.

“The first time I went to CVTC was in the Administrative Assistant program in the late 1990s,” Sunde said. “I worked as an administrative assistant for Notre Dame Parish in Chippewa Falls for a while, and also did some bookkeeping for a term agency.”

When she had her children, Sunde switched to in-home daycare work, then joined her husband at the time as a truck driver. “We would take the kids with us because at that time we owned our own truck,” she said.

That ended when the children got old enough for school, and after working some odd jobs, Sunde decided it was time to turn the page.

“I wanted to earn more money, but looking for work as an administrative assistant again, I found that the places hiring wanted an accounting background to go with it,” Sunde said.

So, she turned to CVTC and earned an associate degree in accounting. “I got a good accounting job, but after five years, I had some medical issues and lost that job.”

After going through a divorce, a period of raising her children on her own, Sunde remarried and felt ready to turn the page again. She started at UW-Stout, but ended up transferring to CVTC and enrolled in the Automation Engineering Technology program.

“My health problems had healed and I knew I could do that job,” Sunde said. “I like the mechanical aspects of it, and it got so accounting wasn’t paying that much.”

But she found herself in program dominated by men and younger students. She admits it was a little uncomfortable at first.

“Once I proved myself to the guys, they had no problem with me,” Sunde said. “Sometimes they would even come to me for answers.”

Her fourth-semester project involved making improvements on a flight simulator built by a previous student. Among other changes, Sunde and a partner fitted it with a rapid-fire air cannon that could shoot ping pong balls at a moving target. It turned out to be a big hit at the annual Manufacturing Show.

Graduates of the program are in great demand, and Sunde was able to secure a position with the Nestle plant in Eau Claire, starting on April 13.

So will this be the last turning of the page for the three-time CVTC graduate? Maybe not, Susan Sunde has shown she’s not afraid to take on new challenges.

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