Siblings experience college success while attending WCTC together
Brothers and sisters joke with, compete against and tease each other, but they ultimately protect and support one another. They generally want the best for one another, and their influence is strong—in friendships, in life and in school.
For two sets of Waukesha County Technical College siblings, attending college together has had some advantages—from socializing after class, serving as a resource and being a study partner.
NEW CAREER PATHS LATER IN LIFE
Jess Eddy and Dave Brown returned to college in their 30s and 40s, respectively, as life events took them in different directions in their young adult lives. No matter their ages, however, Jess will always be “Dave Brown’s little sister,” and it didn’t take long for instructors to realize the two were related—thanks to their strong bond, shared fondness for cooking and support of one another (plus a little good-natured ribbing).
In Jess’s early career, she worked in business and teaching, but later took a break to stay home with her three young children. When her youngest was school age, she found herself at a crossroads.
“I could do what I know and what is comfortable, or I could go back to school and finally become whatever it is I want to be,” she said.
She chose the latter and immersed herself in the Baking and Pastry Management program, participating in cake competitions (and garnering awards), getting involved in the Hospitality and Culinary Club and traveling abroad to Rome for an international study experience.
Her commitment paid off, and shortly after her spring 2018 graduation, she opened Jess E’s Cakes and Donuts, LLC. Most recently, she was a contestant on the Season 5 Food Network’s Halloween Baking Championship.
“In the past, I really wasn’t a great student,” she said, “but going to school, now, later in life,
I was on a mission and I knew what I had to do!” she said.
Her positive experience prompted Dave to consider WCTC.
“Jess enrolled first and she convinced me. She said it would be good for me,” he joked.
As an army veteran who served in Iraq, and was injured twice in combat resulting in multiple surgeries over a dozen years, Dave was eligible for the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program. This benefit covers education and related costs for military members with service-connected disabilities.
Dave is now on his way to earning degrees in Culinary Management and Hospitality Management—fields that sparked his interest while he was stationed in Washington D.C. and working at the Mologne House Hotel at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
“At Mologne House, I fell in love working with people and I knew I’d like to keep working in hospitality,” he said, adding that he is also a student mentor in WCTC’s Veterans Center and helps military students adjust to civilian life.
Since Jess’s and Dave’s time at WCTC overlapped, they had some of the same classes—taken together or separately—
including Hospitality Law, Purchasing and Accounting. This was beneficial as they were able to discuss common material and work through challenging topics.
“It was nice for us to study together,” Jess said. “He’s more the math, I’m more the English.”
WCTC also had a social component for Jess and Dave, who live about an hour apart from each other. “School kind of became our meeting place,” Jess said. “There were so many times that I would just hang out at the vet center to catch up.”
While Jess continues to grow her business, Dave has a few more semesters in his academic journey, and he’s making the most of his WCTC experience.
“Some people are trying to get grades, I’m trying to get knowledge,” Dave said. “Being here, it’s been phenomenal.”
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY STUDENTS FOLLOW SAME PATH
IT-Computer Support Specialist student Noah Wiley came to WCTC in his senior year of high school in 2017-18 to get a head start on his education and explore what WCTC had to offer, so he signed up for the Dual Enrollment Academy’s IT Systems Specialist program.
“I thought it was a great way to start college early and gain valuable experience for future jobs,” said Noah, who will graduate in December and is already working as a level 1 technician at CCA Technology.
Noah’s younger sister, Rachael, decided to follow her brother’s path. She enrolled in and completed the same DEA program—just one year later—and is now also in the IT - Computer Support Specialist program.
“I encouraged Rachael to attend Dual Enrollment Academy because it is a great program, and I thought that she would benefit from the experience,” he said.
Rachael has also found success in the IT field. She is a customer service representative for VCPI, an outsourced IT company for long-term, post-acute care facilities, and in spring 2019, she earned a prestigious award from the National Center for Women in Information Technology.
The Wiley siblings haven’t had any classes together, but they’ve been a resource for one another, giving each other feedback on projects.
“It is fun attending the same college, as we are able to share our class experiences and have had many of the same instructors,” Rachael said. “Being in the same program is also interesting because we have similar interests in the IT field. At the same time, we have both had very different work experiences because IT has so many different paths.”