Finding a path to the road ahead: Sauk, WACC team up to help students take steps toward their career path

September 21, 2018

DIXON – When Dixon High senior Michael Ludens stepped off the bus and into Sauk Valley Community College, he didn’t exactly know what he wanted to do for a living.

Who can blame him? Such a life-altering decision can be daunting, especially for a 17-year-old.

“It’s definitely nerve-wracking. I’m not sure what I want to do yet,” Ludens said.

For the first time Friday, Sauk and the Whiteside Area Career Center collaborated to bring Ludens and about 560 other WACC students and staff to campus, to see just what college has to offer.

“There are kids who go to Whiteside and have never been inside Sauk,” said Jerry Binder, the career center’s director of development. “Some of them don’t even know what they want to do for a living. So we wanted to bring this to them.”

Students gathered in the Jerry Mathis Theater for a short presentation by Steve Nunez, vice president of academics and student services, and Joshua West, dean of business, career and technical programs, who pitched the educational and financial benefits the community college provides.

Students then split into groups, each of which focused on programs tailored to their interests: criminal justice, art, health professions and multicraft technology.

Ludens took the multicraft technology tour, based on his automotive technology class at WACC and his family connection: “My older brother, Kyle Schopp, was a mechanic in Ashton, so I think it’s something I want to do, but I want to make sure to see everything there is to do,” Ludens said.

Sauk’s multicraft technology program was designed to respond to the local demand for welders, electricians and machinists.

“There are 50- and 60-year-old’s who are retiring from good-paying jobs, and businesses want to fill those positions with the next generation,” West said. “So we worked together to build the multicraft extended internship program that meets their needs.”

Sauk’s extended internship program splits students’ time between the classroom and the workplace.

Tuesday and Thursday, students are in the classroom, learning about heating ventilation and air conditioning, welding and electronics. Monday, Wednesday and Fridays are spent applying that new information where it counts – on the job.

“Businesses we work with, such as Donaldson Filtration Solutions, Frantz Manufacturing and Wahl Clipper, will hire right out of the classroom after the courses are done,” West said.

That’s important to students who might not be sure about the career paths they want to take, and whether Sauk will factor into that decision.

As Ludens stepped back on the bus back to Dixon High, he was a little more confident about the road ahead of him, he said.

“There were so many things just in the manufacturing field that I learned today. It’s something I want to do for sure now.”

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