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SPECIAL SECTION

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Blackhawk Technical College graduates 460 students

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Nick Crow
Saturday, May 16, 2015

BELOIT—An overcast Saturday didn't stop families and supporters of Blackhawk Technical College's Class of 2015 from turning out in force.

More than 450 students received diplomas in front of a packed house at the Dream Center in Beloit.

Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Fort Atkinson, served as keynote speaker. He said the theme he hoped graduates would take away from his speech was to be memorable in a positive way.

"This technical college is one of the shining jewels of my district," Jorgensen said. "Jobs are something that is very important to me and this is where it all begins."

Here are a few stories from Saturday's commencement:

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"It was worth it": Joey Eley, 20, graduated Saturday. He begins his new job June 1.

"I'm excited," he said. "I didn't expect it to happen so fast."

Eley spent three years in the college's accounting program. He fits the profile Blackhawk Tech wants: a student who immediately finds employment upon completion of a degree at BTC.

"I learned the core abilities that I'll use in the workplace," Eley said. "Once I got serious about school, it went pretty fast. I got through with the help of my friends and the support of my family and instructors."

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"Go for it": JaQuala Dumas started at BTC in its GED program.

"I worked really hard," she said.

Now, Dumas works at the college part-time, is a peer mentor, volunteer and tutor. She graduated Saturday with an administrative professionals degree.

"I was inspired to better myself," she said. "I wasn't doing much at the time, but I turned it around."

The mother of two decided to continue her schooling, and she encouraged people in her position to do the same.

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"Struggling to integrate": After serving two tours in Iraq, Ryan Kelly was bouncing from job to job.

"I wanted to be a police officer, but after applying in Madison and being told "Thank you for your service, but we need more," I decided I needed to go back to school," he said.

The Marine Corps veteran decided to attend BTC to study criminal justice.

"Once I enrolled in school and got serious I got more comfortable with being home," Kelly said.

He said he plans to get his master's degree one day and wants to be a criminal justice instructor after he retires from police work.

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"Adventure is out there": Katie Bautista had a simple message on her cap Saturday.

It read, "Adventure is out there."

Inspired by the Pixar movie "Up," Bautista said she wants to go into directive nursing. She graduated from the business management and nursing programs Saturday.

"I think this is the next step in my adventure," Bautista said.

"I'm excited, elated," she said. "But it's also bittersweet."


Last updated: 12:12 pm Saturday, May 16, 2015


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