For Pablo Venegas everything is “amazing!” Pablo hardly spoke any English when he moved to the United States from Chile in 2011. Now he has college credits, job skills and a promising future.
Pablo was studying physical therapy with hopes of working for a professional soccer team. He was working as a barista. Then he met Rachel, an exchange student from Wisconsin.
The two married and returned to Wisconsin where Pablo enrolled in English classes at Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC). He discovered that through a “Bridge” program he could learn English and gain job skills at the same time. The classes combine English Language Learners and adult basic education (ABE) students and are taught by an occupational instructor and an ABE instructor.
Cara Bowman, Pathways Bridge Coordinator for WCTC, screens students, helps them with registration, enrollment and scheduling. She helped Pablo enroll in the CNC Level 1, 13-credit certificate. The courses provide an introduction to careers in manufacturing and give students basic skills in machine tool operation and Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) manufacturing.
Credits from this certificate program may be applied toward the General Manufacturing associate degree, the Machine Tool Operation technical diploma or the Tool and Die technical diploma.
When Pablo saw the facilities and equipment at WCTC he was overwhelmed. “It was so amazing!” he gushed. “Everything was fantastic!”
Pablo was always mechanically inclined and enjoys making and fixing things. In the Industrial Blueprint Reading class he learned SOLIDWORKS, an engineering design software program. It was the hardest course and his favorite. Pablo decided he wanted to learn more and perhaps become an engineer in the future.
When some of his classmates dropped out of the program because it was too difficult, Pablo decided to do his best and not fear failure. He learned the value of hard work and felt great pride in completing the certificate program.
“Without the Bridge program I would not be able to do that,” he said. “The teachers were so amazing.”
Within two weeks of completing the CNC certificate Pablo had several job offers. He chose G & V Machine Company in Ixonia. Later he moved to Madison and accepted a position with Sub-Zero & Wolf, an appliance manufacturing company.
“I want to use my design skills from SOLIDWORKS and do cool stuff with that software,” he says. “Also, they have tuition reimbursement so maybe soon I can take more classes. For now I am just enjoying the time there.”
“Pablo’s success can be attributed to many things, personal motivation, strong family support, excellent understanding of life/work balance, to name a few,” said Cara Bowman. “But overall I believe it was his light-hearted and warm attitude that pulled him through. He wonderfully and appropriately used humor with his classmates and was always ready to assist others as the class moved through a difficult math concept or a new project.”