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Graduate labored to Start Her CVTC Career

CVTC graduate Melanie Carey holds her son, Xander, 6, who was born just four days before she started in the Nursing program. Her husband, Jeff, and their other sons Reider (left) and Chris joined mom at the spring commencement May 17. Submitted photo

Students first beginning their college experience typically have a lot to do and a lot on their minds in the days leading up to their first classes. But not many have something on their agenda as big as what faced Melanie Carey, who was the student speaker at Chippewa Valley Technical College's spring commencement for the River Falls campus Thursday, May 17.

Her youngest son, Xander, was born four days before an important orientation session for Carey's Nursing-Associate Degree program. In fact, she asked her doctor to induce labor so she wouldn't miss it.

Carey was one of 52 graduates in seven programs honored at the River Falls campus ceremony. The most popular programs were Nursing-Associate Degree with 20 graduates and Electromechanical Maintenance Technician with seven. On Friday, May 18, 630 graduates in 52 programs were honored at a ceremony for Eau Claire campus graduates. In the two ceremonies, the graduates included 452 receiving associate degrees and 230 receiving technical diplomas.

Her children have been a big part of Carey's motivation to pursue a nursing career.

"When I graduated from high school in River Falls, I didn't know what I wanted to do, or if I wanted to go to school," Carey said. "But when I had my first son in 2008, and experienced the work of the doctors and nurses, that's when I decided to become a nurse."

She had one other son before enrolling in CVTC, and with boys ages 7 and 4 at home and one more on the way, she was ready to start with the Nursing-Associate Degree orientation sessions Aug. 4-5, 2012.

Only the new son was to arrive very shortly after that.

"I was worried — what if I went into labor? What if my water broke? What if the baby comes right

before that?" she said. "I asked my doctor to induce labor. In fact, I think I begged her for three weeks."

Once the doctor was sure the baby's weight was healthy, she agree to induce and Xander was born a few days before the due date. But with a newborn, how did she manage motherhood and college?

Carey credits CVTC's flexibility.

"I was taking prerequisite classes the first year, and planned it so I could take them online and be home with the boys," Carey said. "It was very impressive how flexible CVTC was, and when I started attending classes, the campus was right near my home."

Carey was also able to take her time, finishing in six years. She has been working as an LPN at Christian Community Home in Hudson, and will work as an RN once she passes her board exam.

In her remarks to the class, Carey reflected on superheroes, an idea that came to her while watching a Marvel movie with her boys.

"I see a room full of superheroes who appreciate their sidekicks, whether it is family, friends, peers, coworkers, or instructors," Carey said. "Look at those around you. Look at your peers. Look at your supporters. Look at your sidekicks. These are your comrades. This is your team. They cheered for you when times were tough. They pushed you forward. They struggled with you. They were there for the triumphs and the failures, the wins and the losses."

The commencement guest speaker was Brian Manion, the vice president of the River Falls office of WESTconsin Credit Union, who reflected on the meaning of success, and cautioned the graduates that their first job may not be to their liking and it might take some time to find the right position.

"But choose something you love to do, something you can look forward to each and every day,"

Manion said. "Be appreciative of those who help you succeed — including your instructors. And last, enjoy life, and you'll be a success."

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