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Alumni Award Recipients Named at CVTC Gala

Friday, June 9, 2023

Alumni Award Recipients Named at CVTC Gala

Image: Alumni Award Recipients Named at CVTC Gala

As a business with a longstanding history of being an advocate for technical education, Benedict Sales & Service has been named Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Proven Business Partner for 2023.

The award was presented Thursday, June 8, at CVTC’s annual Gala. Also honored were Jennah Volovsek, dairy calf specialist at Northside Elevator, as the Outstanding Recent Alumni; and Melvin Mast, manufacturing mechanical equipment senior specialist at Nestle, as the Distinguished Alumni.

Benedict Sales & Service, Proven Business Partner
Benedict Sales & Service has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to advancing technical education, providing invaluable support to students, educators, and the broader community.

Luke Benedict, CEO and owner, said his business is closely aligned with CVTC for a few reasons.

“We tie all of our recruiting efforts closely to CVTC, because we are very fortunate to have one of the premier HVAC/R technology centers right in our own backyard,” he said of the College. “Multiple members of our team dedicate time each year to youth programs from middle school to high school age kids to help teach them about our industry and how CVTC can help them on their path to a successful career in the trades.”

Benedict Sales & Service has long been a financial supporter of CVTC through fundraising events and annual donations to name a few.

When the Energy Education Center was built, Benedict Sales & Service sourced equipment at no cost or through in-kind donations. Since then, the business has also donated a service van to haul equipment. Most recently, Benedict Sales & Service donated a walk-in cooler, freezer and refrigeration systems as an in-kind donation. And last, but not least, the company has committed to the naming rights for the energy lab with a $50,000 donation.

CVTC is the largest, single education source of all hires within Benedict Sales & Service. In the last two years, the company has averaged hiring five CVTC graduates each year, not including hiring students from CVTC before they graduate.

“We place existing employees in programs at CVTC where applicable, whether that’s a specific class or an existing employee who wants to go to night class and learn the basics of electrical and refrigeration,” Benedict said. “On top of referring family and friends to CVTC to get into the industry, we offer scholarship programs or reimbursement programs for those we recruit and send through CVTC. We truly stand behind the praise we give CVTC.”

Jennah Volovsek, Outstanding Recent Alumni
Volovsek comes by her career honestly. She grew up on a farm, and her passion for farm life is unparalleled. That’s why attending CVTC for animal science was a natural fit.

“Going to CVTC was a great experience,” she said. “They got us out on different farms. That helped us become comfortable talking to farmers and getting out to see different businesses in the ag industry – from small farms to large farms and everything in between.”

Now, five years after graduating, she talks to farmers daily in her role at Northside Elevator. The family-owned, fourth-generation business covers a 130-mile radius with its feed trucks covering farms of all sizes.

“I go out to different farms, and I help them focus just on their youngstock, and I help them create diets for their calves …” Volovsek said. “I’m out there, and I’m an advocate for the farmer to reach their goals. I get to be out on the farm every single day.”

Volovsek volunteers her time at CVTC by talking to students at career fairs and serving on the College’s advisory committee for the Animal Science programs. She’s grateful for her mom and dad, who have been great examples in the farming community; to her husband, who also went through the program at CVTC and is a co-worker of hers at Northside Elevator; and for CVTC.

“I’m always advocating for CVTC,” she said. “For me to go to a college where I was surrounded by my peers and like-minded people, it was really important and gave me a good foundation to grow.”

Melvin Mast, Distinguished Alumni
Melvin Mast grew up Amish, stepped out of that culture and took his chances on CVTC.

He began his collegiate career 12 years ago. He had a family with a 2-year-old son and was looking for flexibility in education. He had his sights set on industrial mechanics. Mast attended classes full-time and worked nights to make it work.

“For me, it was going through that programming and gaining that confidence by just attending classes,” he said. “I didn’t realize how much confidence I was getting out of it.”

Mast graduated in 2011 and was hired as a mechanic with Nestle Health Science in 2012. He climbed the ladder by accepting the position of reliability coordinator and then his current position of manufacturing mechanical equipment senior specialist.

He admits he’s in the office more now and a bit more data-driven, but he works closely with the manufacturer based out of Italy, and he’s able to work with local machine shops.

He also began supporting CVTC just like it had supported him.

“I go back to CVTC frequently,” he said. “I’m on the mechatronics and automation engineering advisory committees. I feel like my input to the program is valued. I really appreciate it.”

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