Thirteen years after earning his first degree from Moraine Park, Ryan Riley walked the stage once again, this time as a husband, father and the 2022 Student of the Year.
Riley came to Moraine Park right out of high school and graduated from the Electricity program in 2009. He was not initially passionate about working as an inside electrician but felt pressured to pick a career path after high school.
After graduation, he was eager to start his next chapter, but the excitement was short-lived. At the time, the housing market was crashing and the economy was in a recession, which made finding employment difficult.
“I spent the next decade trying out different jobs,” Riley said. “I worked inside, outside, in a factory, in construction for small family businesses and for large corporations. Eventually, after several failed attempts at finding my place and some careful planning, I decided to get on the waitlist for the Electrical Power Distribution (EPD) program at Moraine Park.”
After being accepted into the program, Riley’s world began to shift very quickly. He quit his full-time job, and with a girlfriend and three children to support, he had to make major adjustments.
“It was a scary decision to quit my job and go back to school, but what was even scarier was the thought of spending the rest of my life working a job I did not like and not providing for my family,” Riley said.
Once Riley started in Moraine Park’s EPD program, he excelled. Earlier this spring he was named Moraine Park’s Student of the Year and spoke at the Student Awards Banquet and Moraine Park’s Commencement Ceremony. It was because of his humility and authenticity that Riley earned the nomination for the Student of the Year Award.
“Being nominated for Student of the Year was very unexpected,” he said. “It was not on my radar or anything I was expecting to get. I know there were so many other great students, so it was really an honor to be chosen.”
After graduating from the EPD program, Riley started a job at Asplundh doing line clearance tree trimming. He enjoys being in the field, networking and learning other valuable skills to generate income on the side. He hopes to be hired as an apprentice at an electrical company next spring.
“It has been an adjustment for my family to get used to me working again,” Riley said. “Going back to school has given my family hope for a better future with more opportunity, and the best is yet to come.”