New CVTC IT Classes Offer Adults New Opportunities

information technology courses allow adults to dip their toes into a new field

Alyssa Van Duyse / Chippewa Valley Technical College

Chippewa Valley Technical College student Joshua Walters.
Chippewa Valley Technical College student Joshua Walters.

Joshua Walters hasn’t had it easy.

The 32-year-old Eau Claire man has struggled with addiction and is determined to stay sober. During his 10 months of sobriety, Walters is realizing his passion with the help of Hope Gospel Mission and Chippewa Valley Technical College.

“I come from addiction, and I struggled with addiction,” Walters said. “I came (to Hope Gospel Mission) because I knew it was a good program and a good place to grow. Right now, my main goal is to stay here another year and to go to CVTC.”

Walters is a student of the first in a series of five, one-credit information technology courses CVTC offers to receive a Google IT Technical Support certificate. The courses are offered at no charge through a grant secured by CVTC. People who complete the five courses and receive the Google certificate will earn three college credits towards CVTC’s IT – Network Specialist associate degree if they choose to move forward.

“For years, I’ve been thinking about IT networking,” Walters said. “It seems like everywhere we go, people in businesses are relying on technology. There are so many different fields that you can go into and positions you can specialize in. There’s a lot of room for growth, and it gets you thirsty for knowledge.”

“You have to try every day to do the best and learn as much as you can. I always told my kids to learn now. Now I’m taking my own advice.” –Leonor Pena, CVTC student

Chippewa Valley Technical College student Leonor Pena.
Chippewa Valley Technical College student Leonor Pena.

Leonor Pena, 47, of Chippewa Falls, can relate to Walters’ excitement over the introduction to IT through the eight-week courses. It’s an opportunity to dip her toes in the field.

“It’s time for me to do what I’ve always liked,” Pena said. “When I was a kid, my brother was the one who loved computers. I didn’t understand them, but I wanted to.”

Pena received her CNA credential but didn’t make it a career long-term. She started raising her five children, but was plagued with health issues and didn’t have the opportunity to take the IT classes that interested her.

The courses, which are all online, fit Pena’s lifestyle. She plans to take all five courses to receive the certificate and then move on to an associate degree.

Josh Entzminger, IT-Network Specialist instructor, said Pena and Walters have excelled in the first course – Technical Support Fundamentals.

“Pena finished all the course activities well before they were due, and her passion for IT is very evident,” Entzminger said. “She did a great job engaging in our online tech discussions and was very eager to get registered for the second course.”

Entzminger said the goal of the courses is to provide students with the skills needed for an introductory-level job in IT support with no relevant experience required.

“The Google IT Support courses offer students a low-risk way of getting started in the IT field and finding out if it’s something they enjoy and have the aptitude for,” he said. “These courses are also a great way for students to see if they would like to take their IT education further.”

Jill Mayer, CVTC Adult Education and College Prep instructor, said for adults looking at a change of career or trying a new educational avenue, it’s a game-changer.

“A lot of students go into a field that they have no experience in,” she said. “Here they’re getting kind of a look-see – an intro course into the IT world.”

She said she’s proud of the students in these new classes who are pursuing their passion no matter what factors may have held them back in the past.

Pena is grateful for the opportunity.

“I’ve always been a person who has been sick off and on all of my life,” she said. “You have to try every day to do the best and learn as much as you can. I always told my kids to learn now. Now I’m taking my own advice.”

Learn more about CVTC’s Adult Education & College Prep offerings at