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Double Fisting Degrees

comparing a UWEC studentship to some new adventures at CVTC

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by Robin Kinderman illustrated by Michelle Chrzanowski

Robin, when you grow up, you’re going to go to a good school and get a good job and not struggle like we did.”

These are the words I heard repeatedly growing up. But, as fate would have it, my parents divorced when I was 17, and I was left to fend for myself. I went through the motions, of course – meeting with counselors and taking the necessary tests – but I didn’t research any colleges, call any entrance counselors, or take any campus tours. Neither my parents nor I had money saved up, so I figured my only option was close to home – Eau Claire. I automatically signed up for a major in print journalism, because that’s what I was good at. 

The next five years were an awkward, uncomfortable struggle. I’d gone from being known in high school to just a number in a sea of thousands. I made one friend and forged a relationship with one professor. My grades never excelled. Having to support myself restricted me from extra-curricular activities. I never attended a football game or Homecoming. I never studied abroad. Needless to say, when I graduated from UWEC, I felt deprived. I felt I had missed out on everything a college experience is supposed to be. The other problem was that I’d lost my enthusiasm. I found myself questioning why the last five years of my life felt like a waste. 

This was when my fiancé proposed going back to school. He suggested marketing at CVTC. I scoffed at the idea at first. But then I thought about it. An associate’s on top of a bachelor’s had to get me a good job, right? 

January of 2010, I started my first semester at the Chippewa Valley Technical College. It was definitely different. There was a lot more diversity age-wise. The instructors dressed in jeans and went by their first names. The classes were smaller and more hands on. And you know what? I loved it. 

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