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CVTC student who took ‘leap of faith,’ graduating with honors

Friday, December 8, 2023

CVTC student who took ‘leap of faith,’ graduating with honors

man with blue shirt in electrical room at college

Alan Newbury is a single dad, works full-time, is a volunteer coach for youth football and is getting straight As as a full-time student at Chippewa Valley Technical College in River Falls. To say he’s a tad busy is an understatement.


But he’d do it again in a heartbeat, he said. 


“It’s been a really big surprise,” he said of how well he’s re-acclimated to college life. “I’m really hard on myself and my worst critic. I’m 32 years old and just going back to school now, but age doesn’t matter. You’re always able to complete your goals.”


Newbury will graduate with a one-year technical diploma as an Electromechanical Maintenance Technician from CVTC on Thursday, Dec. 14. From there, he plans to apply for the Automation Engineering Technology program to earn his associate degree. 


In 2010, Newbury graduated early from Park Falls High School as a charter student. He went to Northwood Technical College (formerly WITC) in Ashland to become a registered nurse. But after the first semester, he could tell that nursing was not his passion.


He switched gears and began working with his father-in-law doing 3D printing. They made pharmaceutical medication dispensers. But after several years, they ended up closing the business, and Newbury was at a crossroads.


“I kicked around going back to school,” he said. “When I started thinking about it, I had been out for five years already.”


But his grandfather was the voice of reason, he said. 


“I had a lot of conversations with my grandpa. He just kept telling me, ‘You can’t be afraid of changes,’” Newbury remembered. “Basically, going back to school for me was like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. It was a leap of faith.”


Mark Husby said Newbury made the right call to step into the program.


“We get many students who are working and going to school,” said Husby, director and instructor for the Automation Technology program at CVTC. “Alan (Newbury) has been a great student. He’s definitely a success story.”


Newbury is working as a maintenance technician now, and his goal was to increase his skill base so he could continue to thrive in his work environment. He said he’s always been passionate about life and learning – he wants to build things with his hands, problem-solve, invent things and “learn at least a little about everything.”


Walking across the stage during commencement is just the beginning, he said. 


“I’m probably going to be emotional,” Newbury said. “I never walked with my class in high school, but this time I broke down, got a gown and made sure it fits. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster. 


“If I could offer one piece of advice. No matter what your age or goals, don’t be afraid to chase them. As long as you put in the work, it will happen. Don’t be afraid to take a chance.”


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