Ever feel busy and daunted by what’s on your plate? Joan Rider can relate. She’s juggling hockey leagues, a business, a job, classes, raising a 10 year old, and more!

But, if there’s one defining quality about Joan, it’s that she’s driven to reach her goals–and not just the ones at the end of the ice rink! Let’s let her tell you how, in her own words:

Hired Before Graduation

My name is Joan Rider. I grew up in West Bend and lived here my whole life. I have three younger siblings and home life was busy!  My mother is a home maker and my dad is an electrician in a chocolate production factory (no hes not Willy Wonka!). In high school I was a varsity swimmer and a hockey and tennis player. I still play hockey weekly on a local co-ed league. Right after graduation, I went into full-time work and helped open up a Community-Based Residential Facility for disabled adults.

During my work experience, I realized I was great at running activity programs and that art is extremely therapeutic. With the help of a local business owner, I began my own art therapy business, Sweet Shells Therapy. I actually use turtles to do art with my participants. At home, I have three trained box turtles that assist me in this venture. I take my turtles to area facilities and provide an interactive art program. The participants that I have worked with absolutely love the program and are enthralled with the painting turtles! I cannot wait to bring my turtles into my current place of employment to spread the joy to the residents!

However, while working on starting this business,  I realized I had no idea how to run a business or how to manage an activity program. I enrolled at Moraine Park to gain the knowledge and life skills needed to run a business and/or manage an activity program. While I enrolled, I joined Student Senate, District Student Government, and EDGE and helped start up the Business Professionals of America Club. These clubs all offered plenty of business experience, and I learned so much from the opportunities presented to me.

At Moraine Park, I’m studying Business Management. My goal was to graduate with a degree that would allow me to manage or become a director of life enrichment at a CBRF (community-based residential facility)  specifically for seniors with cognitive and memory impairments. Without a degree, there was no way I could move up the corporate ladder and become as successful as desired. Spring 2017 is my last semester, so I began searching for job openings to get a feel for career openings in my desired field. During my search, I found a brand new 22 million dollar senior living community opening up in Grafton. They were looking for a part-time Life Enrichment Coordinator, and I applied for the position.

I have almost 10 years of experience in life enrichment and activity planning for CBRFs so I was more than qualified for the position. I was offered the job and, even though it is part time, as more residents move into the community, the position will advance to a full-time status. It is now my job to plan, execute and facilitate activities that encourage a healthy body, mind and spirit. I maintain the department’s budget, work within state and company requirements for activities, work on recruiting volunteers and uphold high standards for resident engagement.

During my first week of employment, I was informed that as the community population increases, the company will be hiring a Director of Lifestyle Enrichment. At that time, I will be applying for the director position. I will have my Business Management degree, a reputation in the company and 10 years of activity planning experience. I look forward to the career opportunities ahead of me.

Moraine Park has done a phenomenal job of preparing me for the work place. I feel confident in my management abilities and have all the resources, skills and support I need to begin a successful  career before I even fully graduate!

And more than that, being a single mother to a 10 year old is tough, but Moraine Park has so many resources and support networks that I am able to juggle being a mom, working and going to school. Without Moraine Park, I could not be so successful!


To learn more about Moraine Park’s Business Management program and all our other offerings, visit morainepark.edu/programs.

Andrew Pantzlaff
Written by Andrew Pantzlaff
Public Relations Specialist. Lover of pizza.