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Tech grads ready for next phase

Dan Goodier, Gregg Nelson, and CVTC President Bruce Barker take a moment before graduation to congratulate Greg Erickson, nursing student and speaker, on graduating from the River Falls technical college with honors. <i>Submitted photo</i>

Endurance. Accomplishment. Fun. Success.

Just a few words heard at the Chippewa Valley Technical College commencement ceremony held at the Meyer Middle School Monday, Dec. 19.

Greg Erickson, an Osceola native, wanted something more in life. He knew an education was going to give him that.

"Today is our victory. We've overcome challenges, but we have endured and completed our 'marathon,'" said Erickson, the student speaker and honors nursing graduate.

"Our future now calls for a new kind of endurance. But we have proven to ourselves that we can do anything."

Erickson worked construction and was actually a missionary for a number of years in Suriname, Paraguay, and Zimbabwe.

"But once I got back home again, I had to do something more with my life," he said. "Getting my degree in a two-year program was a great advantage because I wanted to get out into the working world."

Erickson, a father of four, also realized that he was setting a great example for his kids.

"It showed them that it takes hard work," he said. "But it also showed that they can do the same thing."

Erickson is now on the job hunt.

"Ideally, I'd love to find a job, perhaps helping cancer patients," he said. "I just finished my clinicals working with chemotherapy patients, and I just loved it. We'll see what the future holds for me!"

Gregg Nelson, CVTC English and Communication instructor, addressed the students and encouraged them to celebrate their accomplishments.

"This is a moment you'll remember forever," Nelson said. "It's not often that your family comes to celebrate your accomplishments. Enjoy this moment."

"You have to have fun!" proclaimed Dan Goodier, executive director of Christian Community Homes and Services and commencement speaker.

Through a number of entertaining stories getting the students to laugh, Goodier showed just how important it is to have fun at work.

"Things can get stressful and I've seen some very successful people burn out," he said. "You have to find a way to enjoy what you do."

By evening's end, graduates may have ended their journey at CVTC, but as President Bruce Barker said, "It's time to write the next chapter in your life. Believe in yourself and you'll go far."

During Monday night's CVTC graduation, 31 students were awarded associate degrees in these areas: Administrative professional, business management, criminal justice-law enforcement, and nursing.