Successful graduates fuel Wisconsin’s economy

By Erin Eagan


Technical college students come from all walks of life. A single mother who wants to further her education and begin a career in finance follows a distinctly different path than an 18-year-old starting a manufacturing apprenticeship. Each is unique, but together they share a common goal — to better their lives through a rewarding career.

The following six graduates are living proof what can be achieved through a technical college education:

Sharon Cox, Blackhawk Technical College, Registered Nursing
Sharon Cox was a stay-at-home mom and daycare provider when her father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. It was during her time as his caretaker when she decided to enroll at Blackhawk Technical College to pursue a career in nursing. Today, Cox is Vice President, Chief Nursing Officer for Beloit Health System where she is responsible for eight directors, five managers and over 400 staff involved in direct patient care.

Melanie Ruelas, Madison College, Supervisory Management
While living as a single mother in Madison, Melanie Ruelas wanted to further her education. She chose Madison College because of its convenience and affordability. After graduating with an associate degree in Supervisory Management, she now manages two Summit Credit Union branches.

Mary Beth Bockhorst, Moraine Park Technical College, Business Marketing
After becoming restless as a factory worker, a love of visual arts led Mary Beth Bockhorst to pursue a Business Marketing degree at Moraine Park. Now, as Co-Owner and Production Manager of InSpire Magazine, she is able to channel her passion while empowering others to chase their dreams.

Matthew Gerrits, Fox Valley Technical College, Fire Protection
Matthew Gerrits chose Fox Valley Technical College because it was close to home and it offered the fire protection program he was interested in. Gerrits is now a member of the City of Appleton Fire Department and an adjunct instructor in the Fire Protection program at his alma mater.

Spencer Thiel, Lakeshore Technical College, Maintenance Technician Apprenticeship
Spencer Thiel got his first taste of a career in manufacturing through a youth apprenticeship in high school. When he graduated, the same company offered him an adult apprenticeship through Lakeshore Technical College, and for Thiel it was a no-brainer — get paid while learning his craft.

Sarah Barron, Madison College, Electrical Engineering
Upon graduating from UC-Santa Barbara with a degree in Asian Studies, Sarah Barron moved to Japan to teach English. When she relocated to Madison, she felt it was time to make a change so she went back to school. After taking classes at Madison College, she has transferred to UW-Platteville and is currently in pursuit of a degree in Electrical Engineering.

These are just a few of the many success stories of technical college students. Do you know someone who followed their passion and is now enjoying a successful career? If so, send an email to We would love to share their story!