Many of us can identify life-changing moments as a result of being in the right place at the right time. For Danairis (Deedee) Melendez, that is exactly how her Moraine Park journey began.
Deedee is a mother of six children and originally came to Wisconsin from Puerto Rico. Her family settled in Milwaukee, and she found employment at a local Optometrist office. To the outside world she led a normal life, but behind closed doors, she was in a vicious cycle of abuse, both mentally and physically. It is apparent that Deedee has a strength that is rare to come by. However, she said that even her strong, independent personality was no match to her abuser.
“I never thought that I would be a victim of abuse,” Deedee said. “I knew my family deserved more. So, I packed up and fled the situation.”
She relocated her family to the West Bend area and welcomed this as an opportunity to have a fresh start.
Deedee started working at Advanced Focus Eyecare in West Bend. On a typical workday, she was helping a woman find glasses when they began to talk about career goals. Deedee mentioned her desire to become a nurse, and her customer just happened to be Kathy Vandemark, a counselor at Moraine Park Technical College in West Bend.
“We hit it off, I liked her immediately,” Deedee said. “Kathy helped walk me through the enrollment process, and ultimately helped me get into my program.”
Deedee not only wants to be a nurse, but she also has aspirations to be a neonatal nurse.
“My oldest son was born at 23-weeks,” she said. “He had a one-percent survival rate, and he just turned 17!”
Her experience in the neonatal unit as a parent is what motivates her to want to serve the parents and babies in need of care.
Both Deedee and Kathy were in the right place at the right time. The result? Deedee will petition to begin her nursing clinical this March and is expected to graduate in December of 2020.
She is also writing a book documenting her journey as a victim of abuse. Her goal is to help others in similar situations find the help that they need to redefine their life.
We look forward to following Deedee’s journey and wish her the best of luck as she continues to pursue her degree.
**A fun side note**
Deedee’s daughter Jayanie age 12, sat in on our interview. I couldn’t help but strike up a conversation with her also. Jayanie is quite possibly the most polite 12-year old I’ve ever spoken with, and she also aspires to be in health care. Her goal is to be a heart surgeon, and her eyes sparkled a bit when she talked about her dream career. I look forward to interviewing Jayanie in the future as a Moraine Park health sciences student.
Moraine Park Technical College held its bi-annual Manufacturing Skills Academy graduation on Thursday, December 13. The College had 23 students graduate from the program; 10 from the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machinist boot camp and 13 from the welding boot camp.
This program was designed to combat the skilled worker shortage by offering a variety of boot camp sessions. The boot camp sessions are free to participants, teach skills that are unique to a particular pathway, and connect students with area employers. The program also combines a 144-hour paid internship with coursework, including Occupational Math, Print Reading, Team Building, Problem Solving, and program-specific courses. Participating internship sites for this session were Amerequip Corporation, Apache Stainless, Fives Giddings & Lewis, Integrity Saw & Tool, Mayville Engineering Company, Metalcraft of Mayville, Mid States Aluminum, Signicast, Wabash National, and Weasler Engineering.
Since the induction of these sessions in 2012, Moraine Park has had 298 students graduate from the welding and CNC boot camp programs.
Those who completed the most recent CNC boot camp include: Darlene Anderson of Fond du Lac, Nicole Busack of West Bend, Robert Fisher of North Fond du Lac, Ryan Gaus of Fond du Lac, Cory Herrmann of Fond du Lac, Kyle Jenquine of Fond du Lac, Montgomery Kikkert of Fox Lake, Carissa Metz of Waupun, Rick Rodriguez of Fond du Lac, and Alex Russart of Fond du Lac.
Those who completed the welding boot camp include: Brennan Bryan of Fond du Lac, Nita Cook of Beaver Dam, Jennifer Donahue of Beaver Dam, Jordan Finley of DeForest, Dave Finn of Fond du Lac, Michelle Flanagan of Plymouth, Casey Hermann of Fond du Lac, Frank Huber of Juneau, Amy Mann of Fond du Lac, Noah Prost of Watertown, Cecilia Tovar of Beaver Dam, Jeremiah Vanderkin-Jus of Fond du Lac, and Brian Wilcox of Fond du Lac.
The graduation ceremony included speeches from students Busack and Mann.
Busack, a CNC graduate, is grateful for the experience Moraine Park gave her through the boot camp program.
“A lot of us have worked dead end jobs, and didn’t know our hidden potential,” said Busack. “Thanks to Moraine Park and our instructors, we all have a chance to find it. This has opened so many doors for a lot of us.”
Busack served her program internship at Signicast in Hartford and was hired full-time prior to graduation.
Mann, a welding graduate, came to Moraine Park in search of a career she could be passionate about. She completed her internship at Mayille Engineering Company (MEC) and was also hired on as a full-time employee prior to graduation.
“The boot camp program taught me that if there’s something I really want to accomplish, I can do it,” Mann said. “I am standing here today as a welder, a high school graduate, and a newly hired employee of Mayville Engineering Company.”
Moraine Park’s Skills Academy boot camps are free to participating students, thanks to grant dollars from Wisconsin Fast Forward and financial support from area businesses including Amerequip, Apache Stainless, Elkay Interior Systems, Fives, Integrity Saw & Tool, Inc., John Deere Horicon Works, John Crane, Mayville Engineering Company, Midstates Aluminum Corporation, Signicast, SJI/Busse, and Wabash National.
“We are very pleased to participate with Moraine Park’s CNC boot camp again this semester,” Paul Reetz, owner of Ingetrity Saw & Tool, Inc. said. “We have been able to gain quality employees who are advanced on the learning curve. The program teaches them to become a valuable member of our company by the time they become full-time employees at the end of the semester. It’s a rare win-win-win situation for all involved in the partnership!”
In addition, welding training is also funded, in part, through a GPR grant that incorporates both Adult Basic Education and welding. The purpose of this training is to allow students seeking their High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED), the opportunity to take the welding boot camp in conjunction. This training opportunity is open to anyone interested in pursuing their HSED.
Individuals interested in learning more about the CNC and welding boot camp opportunities are encouraged to attend a Boot Camp Test Drive event scheduled at Moraine Park’s Fond du Lac campus on January 23 and 24. Registration is recommended.
For more information, visit morainepark.edu/bootcamps.
Moraine Park Technical College will hold their spring 2019 New Student Welcome Day event on Wednesday, January 16 at all three of their campuses; Beaver Dam, Fond du Lac, and West Bend.
The event will be held open-house style at all three campuses from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. New students who are beginning program classes in spring 2019 are encouraged to attend. Participants will be offered personal guided tours to help locate classrooms, assistance in finding the most convenient parking lot, printed course schedules, ID photos, and the opportunity to purchase their textbooks. Registration is encouraged but not required.
For more information, or to register, visit morainepark.edu/student-welcome-days.
Moraine Park Technical College will be hosting a site review February 5 -7, 2019 for its continuing accreditation for the Nursing Associates degree program by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
The public is invited to meet the site visit team and share their comments about the program. The open forum meeting will take place on Wednesday, February 6, 2019, from 4:00 to 4:30 p.m.at any of Moraine Park’s three main campuses, Beaver Dam, room K-201; Fond du Lac, room E-141; West Bend, room L-137.
Written comments are also welcome and should be received by January 31, 2019.
Dr. Marsal Stoll, Chief Executive Officer
Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
3343 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 850
Atlanta, GA 30326
For more information, visit morainepark.edu.
Jim Hokenson, CNC/Tool and Die instructor at the West Bend Campus, has been with Moraine Park for nearly 20-years and is an alumnus! He has worked hard to become established in the College and community, specifically with educating our youth on the manufacturing career options.