Thursday, May 25, 2017

We're Home!

Our study abroad group returned from our tour of Edinburgh, Scotland; London, England; and Cardiff, Wales, on Tuesday, May 23. Except for one pair of nursing students, the group was made up of students who did not know each other before the trip, but they all had a few things in common:  they were excited to travel outside of the country, they were ready to experience new things, and they were looking forward to broadening their horizons. We returned home with wonderful experiences and the kind of close friendships that are established during travel and adventures. It’s safe to say that the trip was a success on all fronts.

Here are some reflections from a couple of grateful (and weary) students:

"This trip has truly opened my eyes to all the differences between cultures and people of the world. We have learned so much rich history, which often links to U.S. history, during our entire time in Edinburgh, London and Wales. This trip has made me a more confident person with not being afraid to try new things (like Haggis and a Falafel), and knowing that using public transportation to get around an unfamiliar area is not as difficult or scary as it may seem. Nine times out of ten, there is a very friendly person I can ask if I need anything. I plan to use all that I have learned in my career as a registered nurse. This trip will helped me to take a small peek into another country's life and lifestyles. Despite different cultures, histories, or cuisine, we are all humans. I can go into any situation open-minded and ready to help any person at any time. Thank you to all of our incredible tour guides, our awesome travel companions, and advisor Linda Duffy for pushing us out of our comfort zones. Lastly, thank you to Western Technical College for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! I will always keep this awesome experience in mind when I become afraid throughout my life to help me remember that we did this, together, and can get through any situation that comes along."
--Andrea K Hanson

"Growing up on a small dairy farm, I never thought I would ever get the opportunity to travel overseas, but I'm thankful I did. The trip was amazing! There is so much history to be found around every corner—from a small pub with a local legend to a large museum with a collection from all over the world. Not only were the scenery and history amazing, but so were all of the people we met along the way, from the wonderful Edinburgh taxi driver to our amazing tour guide, Lewis, and all of the folks in between. A special shout out to my roommates who made this trip even more memorable and to their thoughtful kindness along the way! I'll never forget the old stone streets of Edinburgh and lush city parks of London. Thank you so much to everyone who worked to make this trip possible!"
--Sarah McKittrick

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Our Last Day

Today is our last day in London and the last day of our Study Abroad adventure. It was especially sunny with the highest temperature we have had so far, a whopping 75 degrees. We started our day by taking the Tube to Green Park. From there, we headed to Covent Gardens, looking at the high end shops in the St. James area along the way. We arrived at Covent Gardens where our tour guide, Lewis, let us try some of the local tea time treats. We were then free to explore London until our dinner meet up time. Our group decided to explore Covent Gardens, a covered area with many shops. We took our time shopping in the Jubilee Market. The market is similar to a flea market with stalls filled with trinkets, antiques, and collectibles.

After some time spent shopping, we took the Tube to Piccadilly Circus so we could walk to St. James church. In their courtyard was a food festival with many ethnic food stalls. As soon as we had eaten our fill we stopped at the local bookstore before continuing to the London Eye. We stood in line for 15 minutes before stepping into the viewing decks. It took about 30 minutes to come full circle. The view was spectacular with the sun shining on everything below. When we completed our ride we took our time to sit in the park below the Eye, wanting to soak up the beautiful weather on the last day of our trip.

We walked to Westminster Abbey before continuing to Buckingham Palace. As we were lounging on the lawn, one of our people (who had gone to get more pictures of the Palace) saw the Queen as she was being driven home in her motor-carriage. We took the Tube to dinner and experienced the crowded atmosphere of rush hour. We were treated to fish and chips at Admiral's and celebrated the birthday of one of our group members. After taking the Tube back to the hotel, all three school groups gathered together to share what we learned and our favorite memories on the trip, as well as thank Lewis for the amazing job he did to ensure we had an excellent time. While we are sad that our adventure has come to a close, we know that the memories that we have gained on this trip will last us a lifetime.

Tomorrow will be an exceptionally long day, as we head for London's Heathrow Airport at 5 am, before boarding our plane for the 8 hour flight to Chicago and another hour plane ride back to La Crosse.

Written by Janessa Kuderer and Kayla Brooks


Monday, May 22, 2017

Trip to Bath and Stonehenge

Today was a beautiful day. We were picked up at our hotel by a charter bus (including a private guide) that took us the two short hours to Bath. On our way to Bath, we traveled through the countryside, and the tour guide gave us a brief history of Bath and the surrounding area. Once we arrived in Bath we were amazed to find how symmetrical and elegant was the city and even every building. All the buildings were also made of limestone from the area. We learned the natural light yellow/honey color had to be restored by thorough cleanings after the Industrial Revolution when the pollution had turned the buildings black.

After taking a short bus tour through the city of Bath, we got the opportunity to stop at the amazing Roman Baths. At the Roman Baths, we got to tour the site, see the breathtaking view of the hot springs, go through a museum about the springs, and try the hot spring water. After seeing the Roman Baths, we got some free time to explore the city. Some of our group tried traditional pasties or scones with clotted cream.

Next, we boarded the bus for a short drive to Stonehenge. On the way to Stonehenge our tour guide informed us about all the mysterious stories about how Stonehenge came to exist. Once at Stonehenge, we followed a marked path around the stones and used a self-guided audio machine to learn more about this structure from thousands of years ago.

We then headed back into London and had dinner at Mother Mash near the famous Canary Street in the Soho area. We were served a traditional meal of "pies and mash," which was basically a chicken potpie over mashed potatoes with a rich gravy. The meal reminded us of comfort food that we have back in the United States. After dinner, a short Tube ride brought us back to the hotel. We opted for an early night in after getting treats from the gourmet, 24-hour bakery across the street from our hotel.

Through outings like the ones we had today, we are getting more comfortable navigating the streets of London. We are also continuing to learn how to travel on the Tube and bus systems. We are excited to spend our last day in London visiting Covent Gardens (and more), riding on the London Eye, and eating a final, traditional meal.

Written by Jamie Pesik and Jamie Turner

Saturday, May 20, 2017

From Bus to Train to Wales

Just a couple days before we venture home. We are now in Cardiff, Wales. Our travel consisted of a double decker bus ride from our hotel to the train station--a thrilling adventure for all--and a two-hour train ride from Paddington Station to Cardiff Central. The train ride to Cardiff featured beautiful views and also gave us a chance to rest up before exploring. We were most surprised by the many long tunnels that we went through. Upon arriving, we took out maps and planned our short visit to Cardiff.

The visit consisted of a nice, breezy walk to Cardiff Bay. It was a stunning view with boats and beautiful swans. After viewing the bay for a while, we hailed a taxi and were off to the Cardiff Market on St. Mary's street. There were many stores and restaurants. Arcades here are allies full of shops--not games. We were all amazed by one store in particular. It consisted of beautiful artwork by a local artist, and a few of us just had to make a purchase because it was too amazing to pass up.

Speaking of differences between cultures, we also learned first-hand that lemonade here is our Sprite. Also, our French fries are their chips. If you want actual chips, you should order crisps. We also enjoyed seeing the Welsh language around us since all of the signs in Cardiff were written in both Welsh and English.

After a train ride back to London (Wherein we got bumped up to first class!), we agreed that being in London has helped us get out of comfort zones when it comes to public transportation. To pay for the bus ride, we've learned to tap our oyster card on the pad. An oyster card is an equivalent to a prepaid transportation card. We also learned about the main bus lines that run near our hotel. We feel better prepared to explore London on our own, and between having used the Tube and the bus system during our stay, our worries of getting lost have decreased substantially.

We are all looking forward to visiting the Stonehenge and Bath (just outside of London) tomorrow. The views and learning opportunities will be vast, and we cannot wait to explore and gain more knowledge while studying abroad.

Written by Lisa Morris and McKayla Haldorson

Friday, May 19, 2017

We're in London!

It's hard to believe we are in London, England!

We got up to have a continental breakfast, which was so good - bread, cheeses, cereal, jam, pastries, yogurt, and fruit. We loaded up the bus and headed to Windsor Castle where the Queen lives! We had a lot of fun exploring and learning a lot of history, including stories of Henry VIII. Then we grabbed a quick lunch and were back on the road to visit the Tower of London. There we saw the Crown Jewels, got a glimpse of the Changing of the Guards, and explored St. George's Chapel. My favorite part about today was experiencing the history of Windsor Castle and learning about how the monarchy came to be! After our second group tour, our Western group (Western is traveling with a couple other Midwest colleges on this trip) ventured off on our own using the Tube - and we survived!
Written by Andrea Hanson

While at the Tower of London, it was incredible to see the differences in buildings between each time period. With a quick glace it was hard to notice differences since they did such an incredible job, but there were differences between the color of the stones, how the stones were laid out, and of course different building styles when you looked closely. It was also interesting to learn about how items/events earned their names, like how the British Order of the Garter gained its name through a mishap during some dancing at a celebration. This trip has been amazing so far! It is amazing to see how people are able to build upon the past and change to new situations they face. I am looking forward to seeing Wales and experiencing more diverse people and viewpoints than I would normally encounter. As a future nurse, I feel this is important to help me prepare for a career. The medical field is always changing and adapting with new information.
Written by Sarah Mckittrick

To London We Go

...And once more we are off! This time for London. We were all up bright and early to be on the bus by 7:30am this morning. The bus then took us to Waverley Train Station in Edinburgh where we boarded our train to London.

The ride was long, but worth it. Along the way we were able to see some beautiful sights. We were able to capture amazing pictures of the North Sea as well as some of the country side. We also passed quaint little towns such as Berwick Upon Tweed, Newcastle, and York.

During the time we were also able to reflect on our days in Edinburg. One member of our trip was brave enough to try Haggis, the national dish of Scotland, and enjoyed it. We also reflected on tips we had learned from traveling and the differences between Scottish and American culture.

After a four hour train ride, we arrived in London at King's Cross Station. From there we hopped on a bus and met our tour guide. On the tour we were able to see several sights in London. A few of the sights that we saw were St. Paul's Cathedral, Big Ben, and Westminster Abby. Unfortunately, we did get a little wet, but we were still eager to get off the bus to capture pictures of the different sights.

We are all tired from our long day, but excited for what lies ahead as tomorrow we are off to Winser castle and the Tower of London.

Written by Janessa Kurdere and Kayla Brooks 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Scotland Countryside - Day 3

We were able to start our adventure today (Wednesday) a little later so we could catch up on some much needed rest. At 9:45 a.m. sharp, we boarded the bus and headed out to Scotland’s countryside to the village of Glenkinchie where we toured a distillery. On our journey to Glenkinchie, we got to experience the narrow and winding roads and enjoy the endless rolling hills and beautiful fields of yellow oilseed rape.

During the Glenkinchie tour, we learned the whiskey making process and information about the history of the whiskey industry in Scotland. We also learned a lot of historical facts. After visiting the Glenkinchie Distillery, we ventured back into Edinburgh. Here we split into groups to experience the city for one last day.

During our exploration of Old Town and New Town, we learned more about their currency. We also continued to grow our knowledge of Scotland’s culture and history while interacting with the locals.

Later in the evening, a few group members took a short trip to the nearby fishing village of Queensferry where we got to experience the Forth Road Bridge and Firth of Forth coastline. It was interesting to visit a small, tight-nit community compared to the busy city life of Edinburgh. Our cab driver educated us on the three Forth Bridges and how they provide the main transportation across the Firth of Forth and connect the coastline of Edinburgh and Fife.

Tomorrow morning we are leaving bright and early at 7:30 a.m. to travel to London. We are excited for our train ride to London and the different landmarks we are going to visit. A few landmarks we are looking forward to seeing are Big Ben, Tower of London, and Windsor Castle. We will miss Scotland, but we are thankful for the opportunity to visit Scotland and learn about its history and culture.

Written by Jamie Turner and Jamie Pesik 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Edinburgh, Scotland Adventures

It’s been quite the adventure so far! We embarked on our journey on May 14, 2017. The day consisted of three different flights. We arrived in Glasglow, Scotland on May 15, 2017. Upon going through customs, we hopped on a bus for an hour and a half drive to Edinburgh, Scotland. We hit the ground running once we arrived and took of tour of the Royal Mile by the Edinburgh Castle. Then we explored some local shops and were a tad drenched. Luckily, we were able to dry up a bit during lunch at Deacon’s House Café.

By the end of the first day in Scotland, we were all exhausted, but we rallied the next day and had a blast. We had a guided bus tour of New Town, immersed ourselves with the locals, took a nice hike up the Holyrood Park (Arthur's Seat) in a drizzle, and then finished the day with a Walking Literary Tour. The tour was very insightful and gave us some great poetry and history of Edinburgh. Before the New Town in Edinburgh was built around the 1700’s, the rich and poor all lived together in the Old Town. Later though, once New Town was completed, the rich moved there and left the poor in the squalor's and unsanitary conditions of Old Town. Fun fact: New Town is older than the United States of America.

We are grateful for our experience thus far. It has been enlightening and inspiring. We look forward to using the cultural information we have gathered to make us better and safer travelers while in Scotland and during our stay in London, England.

One of the best tips we have gained is to make sure we are always paired up with one another. This helps ensure we don’t get lost and to make sure we are watching out for each other.

Written by McKayla Haldorson and Lisa Morris

Monday, May 15, 2017

And We're Off!

On Sunday, May 14, eight students with faculty member, Linda Duffy, took off for Scotland and 3 flights later they will arrive.  Keep checking back to read about their travels.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Western goes to Scotland & England

Western students and faculty advisor, Linda Duffy will be traveling to Scotland and England on a 10 day adventure on May 15-27. Follow us on our travels by following this blog.

Day 1: Fly to Scotland
Day 2: Edinburgh
Day 3: Edinburgh
Day 4: Edinburgh & Night Train
Day 5: London
Day 6: London
Day 7: London
Day 8: Stonehenge & Bath
Day 9: Wales or London
Day 10: Fly Home

To prepare for our study abroad trip, we have taken a seven week course studying the countries, becoming reflective learners, and preparing for our travels. We are excited to share our journey with the College and community!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Shawn's Story

I am a family man and I am more than my addiction.

My name is Shawn and I am enrolled in the Electromechanical Engineering program at Western Technical College and will graduate from my program this spring.

While in recovery, I have faced many barriers. The financial burdens were the most difficult along with transportation issues getting me to and from work. It’s very difficult to be dependent upon someone. Another barrier I faced was getting my family back and gaining that trusting relationship with my wife and daughter once I became sober.

Recovery comes with many difficulties in life, mine being the loss of a fiancé and child in 2004, which has been the greatest challenge I have had to come to terms with along the way. Since being in recovery, I have begun to put myself in a positive mindset, I knew I had to, and could do better. Going back to school has been a success. I have made the President’s List each semester and have a job interview lined up with Kohler Supply Company in Kohler, Wisconsin. Kohler chose my application out of many other candidates for an interview. They have a great reputation in the industry along with a higher starting wage. This only proves my personal goals can be attained. I am no longer look at getting a job; I am focused on getting a career to have a better life for my family.

Having many smaller goals such as staying in school and not giving up has helped me to stay focused and feel good about myself. I consider my wife, daughter, my mom and dad my main support system. Without them, I would not be where I am today. I can admit that I have had to eliminate many people in my life, as they were not good influences and none of them stuck by me during those difficult times. I soon realized, early into my recovery, it was my wife and family who were there for me. I began to recognize that certain people and places were my triggers, and cutting those ties were what stopped feeding my addiction. What helped me to get through every day during my recovery was staying focused on my goals and thinking about my family.

If I could give advice to my younger self, it would be to deal with grief differently by having better coping skills for the loss of my loved ones. Much of my success comes from a cognitive behavioral program that was offered to me in the Black River Falls Correctional Institute. The program touches on emotional imbalances and pulls out aspects of your life that are affecting you most. It teaches you how to apply your coping skills. I was fortunate as there are very few prisons that offer addiction based help, even though most of the people are in there suffer with substance abuse.

Liz's Story

I am not my addiction: I am Liz, and I am unique.

I am currently in the Human Services Associate Program. There are a lot of barriers that I have overcome along with my addiction. Your addiction is always there, you know? Any stressors that you had before and after an addiction are still there. For example, I lost a number of relationships.

However, I was lucky as I was able to move away and start over. My main motivation for staying sober and in school is my son and my support systems. I’m enjoying this program and feel good about it! I’m eventually, going to have a degree! My goal in life is happiness! However, I do have smaller goals as well. I’m taking every day, one day at a time. I just want to do good in school and be the best mom I can be! I’ve got an amazing support system; my boyfriend, some friends, and my son’s family. They encourage me to keep going. They are there for me when I need some extra help. It’s super important to let go and rely on your support system sometimes. I know that I can do that with them. The “One Day at a Time” mantra is an important coping skill for me. Sometimes it’s just one minute at a time… If I can get through this, I can get through the day. In my early recovery, I went to meetings, practiced self-reflection, and called on people when I needed them. These things have stuck with me. I think that my recovery will help me in the Human Services program. It will give me the opportunity to see the other side of the story.

On the topic of what advice I would give my younger self, that’s a hard question to answer. I think that everything I went through, I needed to go through. Even if current Liz could go back and talk to younger self, I don’t think I would have listened to me. It seems too simplistic to think that I would say “Hey! Don’t do drugs! It’s a bad idea!” I guess I would say, “Hey, there is a future! You can be happy some day!” Today, I would describe myself as a mom, and someone who is peaceful, friendly, and kind. I am Liz, and I am unique.

Laura's Story

I am a student, aunt, and an unconditional friend.

My name is Laura, and I am in recovery. I have been a student at Western Technical College since the summer of 2015, and am on the path to receiving a degree in Human Services. Due to the high need, my goal is to become a substance abuse counselor and run a women’s sober living house in La Crosse. Without one, they will go back to the streets and are less likely to follow through with recovery. I’d like to run a sober house where women can stay as long as they need. I would love to be a support to other women struggling with their recovery. I’ve been there and understand what they are going through.

The beginning of my recovery was difficult. I didn’t like being alone. I didn’t like being outside, so I wouldn’t go for walks. I listened to music to keep my mind occupied and kept my hands busy. I was in outpatient treatment, involved with Driftless Recovery and went to two meetings per day. The biggest challenge for maintaining my sobriety was not having a support system. This is why I am so passionate about my women’s sober living home. If I could help even one person, I would be ecstatic. Support is crucial to recovery.

I have so many supports in my life that I’m not certain I can count them all! First, I have my probation officer. I am fortunate to have a supportive probation officer who is amazing and always strives to make me a better person. Next, my counselor has been tremendous support. She has helped to build the foundation for my recovery. Tonya Van Tol, Project Proven Coordinator at Western Technical College, has also been very helpful, supportive and instrumental in my education. My grandmother and nephew are very important to me and keep me motivated. My grandmother suffers from dementia, but hasn’t forgotten my recovery and never forgets to ask me how I’m doing. My love for my nephew keeps me going and reminds me what is at stake. There was a time when I couldn’t interact with him, and it broke my heart. I cherish the time we spend together. My parents are also there for me, and I know I can count on those at twelve step meetings to have my back.

If I could give any advice to my younger self it would be, “don’t try so hard. You don’t have to be friends with everyone who accepts you. You can choose your friends. Care about your education. Be yourself - not who others want you to be.” I have come so far from the girl I used to be.

Today, the most important parts of my recovery are still my support systems and the places I can go that are healthy for me. Twelve-step meetings are a staple to my recovery and provide a guideline to how I live my life. I go to Coulee Council on Addictions each week, often just to sit and do homework. I hang out with friends at Jules to have “me time” while playing a round of cribbage. I have learned to be content with myself. I still listen to music to keep my mind occupied, but I also meditate and enjoy going for walks.

My past is not who I am today. It has made me a better, stronger person. I use it as a reminder, but it is not who I am. Finding that person has truly been a fun experience.

Krystal's Story

I am not my addiction: I am a mom, a student, and a strong woman.

I am a student in the Human Service Associate program, and have been attending for the last year and a half with hopes of becoming an addictions counselor. My ultimate goal is to graduate, mainly before my 16 year old daughter does. Having been on and off in school for so long, I’m happy to be focusing on just staying enrolled and keeping my grades up. I had to overcome many challenges to stay sober, but stayed on track with the help of my kids and my support circle. They keep me real, keep me honest, and keep me going. Having a history of “having been there, done that,” I can better relate to those I'll work with in the future. Being at the bottom of life gives you empathy when you make it to the other side. You can recall the pain of others in that spot. Today, I stay on track by watching my kids at their sport events, going to the gym with my siblings and taking boxing classes with my daughter. When I was younger, I didn’t know that life could be this good. To those wanting to follow in my footsteps of recovery, know that “life gets better!” To get where I am today, my world had to completely change. I had to change who I was as a person and who I thought I was. I had to change my friends, and even my marriage. Everything I was had to be sacrificed to be who I am as a person. Today, I’m more than just an addict. I’m a mom, an actress, a student, and a success story.

Chris's Story

I am a Human: I am way more than my addiction.

My name is Chris and I am currently in my second semester of the Human Services Associate program at Western Technical College. When people find out I am a recovering addict, they tend to look at me and talk to me differently. Facing these barriers has helped me stay motivated to educate others that addicts can achieve anything. Being a success story to help other addicts in their journey is what pushes me to continue school and to help others as a career. Ultimately, I just want to be happy in life, but specifically, I am thinking about getting a Bachelor's degree in Social Work, then maybe my Master’s degree. Throughout my journey, I want to make sure all my hard work is worth it.

My family, from the youngest members to the oldest, are big supporters in my life today. Along with my family, I have a circle of friends who are also in recovery. These people hold me accountable. I have changed everything. I changed my choice of friends and the road I thought I was on. In my early recovery, the coping strategies I used included engaging self-talk, (which sometimes turned into self-shouting), actively participating in 12-step meetings, and doing small things like washing coffee cups after meetings. Since the beginning of my recovery, these strategies have changed a small amount. Today, I use skills like meditation, serving my community and making myself visible to the public instead of living a sheltered life. Because of the obstacles I have faced, and from being in recovery, I have developed thick skin. I now know I can get through most things. I believe that these challenges I have faced will help me in the future.

The stigma of what an addict is supposed to look like follows me. When I’m sick or have a headache, people start to think that I may be taking steps back instead of continuing forward. To help remove the stigma around recovery, I would say the person in recovery should get to decide who he/she wants to be during recovery. If I could give my younger self advice, I would tell myself to “go home and go to bed.” Through it all, I would like people to see me as an uncle, a student and a human. I am not an ex-con and I am not a junky, I am just a person.

Heather's Story

I am not my addiction. I am a mother, a student, and a friend.

Hi, my name is Heather. I am currently enrolled in the Human Services Associate Program. My daughter is my biggest motivator to remain sober, and is partly why I am where I am today. I had to know how to cope. After hearing a speaker say, “A drug is the solution at first, then it becomes the problem” really helped to remove some of my shame. I also had to learn how to put myself first. I had to lose myself to find myself.

My daughter, my coping skills, and many other supports in my life allowed me to get out there to be who I am today and find my passion. I am motivated to get a well-paying job to support my daughter and myself. This job not only will support us financially, but will also fill a void in my life. I want to be able to make a difference in the lives of people. One day I would like to become a therapist to help those in need with similar experiences because I have been through relatable situations. I will use my recovery for the common good, and I will give back what it has taught me. During my recovery, I have faced multiple challenges, but I have no regrets. My addiction made me who I am today.

Rob's Story

I am a father: I am way more than my addiction.

For about a year, I have been a Human Service Associate student at Western Technical College. I was in the Marketing program and the Mechanical design program in the past. My ultimate goal is to obtain a rewarding job. My motivators to stay in school are to provide a decent living to support my fiancé and child, as well as to raise awareness about addiction.

During my recovery, some barriers that I had to overcome were changes to my employment setting, and I had to build bridges with my family. My coping skills and strategies I used during early recovery included surrounding myself with sober people. Today, the supports in my life are my fiancé and my son. My friends and my instructors here at Western have also been a huge help. I am able to go to them with any issue, and they are able to help me keep calm. I also have found it helpful to think back to my old self. I did not have the best home life growing up which contributed to the decisions I made in the past. I know now things can always change, and they will. I truly believe you can do whatever you set your mind to; nothing is set in stone. Some advice I would give my younger self would be to pump your breaks and enjoy your life. Life happens way too fast, and you need to enjoy the ride. My success at being in recovery will help me in my future because I devoted a lot of time and effort to get where I am today; any avenue where I can put time and effort will be a success. When it comes to my identity, I define myself as a father.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

People of Western - Adam Lenser

Adam Lenser is in the Bio-medical Electronics Program at Western Technical College. In addition to being a full-time student, Adam is also very involved on campus. He is an instructor’s assistant, volunteer in the Cavalier Cupboard and student leader for Western’s Department of Community Engagement, and employee at the Union Market. In addition to growing up “around good people and a good family,” Adam has also found a strong support system in his co-workers: “My coworkers have become a family to me.” Not only does Adam view Western’s environment as one that is close-knit, but also the instructors are enthusiastic about their work and supportive of their students. Adam says, “I think that being at Western has helped improve who I am and has made me a better version of myself.”

People of Western - Tyler Schoh

Tyler Schoh is currently in the ASLA program at Western and is planning to transfer to Iowa State University next fall, where he knows he will declare a coaching minor. In addition to being a student, Tyler also plays on Western’s basketball team. The basketball team and Tyler’s family are his strongest support systems: “My family is very close and supportive…They have always pushed me and that has made me who I am today.” Tyler aspires to become a Division I basketball coach and take his team to the NCAA tournament. His family has been a huge influence on those future goals “…a family tradition would be sports…My mom always likes to tell the story about my first steps being on a basketball court.” Tyler sees his experience at Western as one that has “rightfully challenged” him, allowed him to meet great people, provided him with many different experiences, and prepared him to be successful at a four-year university.

People of Western - Beth Filla

Beth (Elizabeth) Filla will be graduating from Western Technical College this April in the Landscape Horticulture program. Beth will be the first in her family to attend college, so a degree from Western is an important accomplishment to her and her family. Her family is her number one support system, and as the oldest of four, she strives to set a positive example for her younger brothers. Beth has enjoyed her Western experience, “There are so many kind and friendly people on campus that you kind of become a family here at Western,” and has enjoyed making perspective students feel welcome on campus, leading campus tours as a Western Scout. In addition to her Scout experience, Leah Durnim-Hoover has been a major influence on Beth since coming to Western: “Seeing the way she interacts with the students every day—I want to be that type of person one day.” Beth looks forward to continuing her education and is considering a Master’s degree in Student Affairs Administration.

People of Western - Ryan John Crain

Ryan is very involved as a student at Western Technical College. He is a member of the Men’s Basketball team, president of the Cavalier Athletic Volunteer Society, and a very motivated and successful student. He is currently enrolled in the ASLA program and plans to transfer to a four-year university to complete a Bachelor’s degree. Ryan is influenced by his connection to family and his heritage. His brother, Chris, is an important support system in his life and someone who played a significant role in instilling Ryan with a strong work ethic, sense of responsibility, and desire to do well academically. In addition to family influences, being on the basketball team and making friends at Western has contributed to Ryan’s personal development and college experience. “I only wanted to stay for a semester until I have the credits and grade point to transfer, but after having the experiences, meeting all these people, making friends, making the basketball team—I wanted to stay for another year.”

People of Western - Andrea Clark

Andrea Clark will be graduating from the Human Services Associate program in April 2016. Her family is a big influence in her life and she has a large support system between her family, her networks and friends at Western Technical College. Andrea believes these networks have been pivotal in her success as a student: “When you have people like that in your corner, how can you not succeed?” Andrea looks forward to sharing her story with others and aspires to educate people about how to help others who are living with disabilities: “That is one of my biggest challenges, is letting people know that just because I have a disability doesn’t mean I am different and you can’t treat us different.” To accomplish this, she hopes to one day write a book and/or be a public speaker.

People of Western - Shainah Carlson

Shainah Carlson, is originally from Roswell, New Mexico and is in two IT programs at Western Technical College. Although she has faced financial problems, she has worked hard and found ways to overcome this barrier and be successful academically. Shainah used Western’s student resources, instructors, and advice from mentors to work towards her degree from Western. Shainah said, “Remember, every instructor is willing to help you and wants you to do your very best with the load that you carry…Western provides the building blocks for success—for a bright future.” Shainah aspires to work in the IT Department at Kwik Trip or Dairyland Power. She also looks forward to gaining a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree: “My degree from Western is the building block that all this is going to fall on and is the base that is going to hold me up.” Shainah looks forward to staying connected with the support systems she has built at Western: “My support system that is at Western will never go away as long as I am willing to keep the connections. I am willing to hold on to these support systems…”

People of Western - Nicole Marshall

Nicole Marshall is a student in Western’s Criminal Justice Program. Following advice from her coach and friends around La Crosse is what brought her to Western Technical College. She has enjoyed getting to know her instructors and peers and has enjoyed her experience at Western: “…it’s just a good learning environment because you get to know everybody around you. You get to feel comfortable. You get to feel safe.” In addition to her positive experiences as a student, Nicole also plays basketball and volleyball. Nicole said, “Getting to play basketball, I’ve met so many awesome girls and my coaches were fantastic…” Coach Chad and Nicole’s instructors have been a huge support system and help in pursuing her academic and professional goals. In five years, Nicole hopes to be working in the criminal justice field: “I just want to make whatever community I end up being in a better place.”