Whirlwind Year Ends with CVTC Graduation

Mark Gunderman

Whirlwind Year Ends with CVTC Graduation

2 mins
June 1, 2021

The past year has been busy and challenging for Heather Cwikla of Medford, and not just because she was balancing her Human Resources program at Chippewa Valley Technical College with full-time employment. Add planning a wedding, buying a house and a bout with COVID-19 to the mix.

I was still in quarantine when the fall semester started,” said Cwikla, a 2015 graduate of Owen-Withee High School. “But my instructors were very understanding.”

Graduating from CVTC eased some pressure on the Clark County native. Cwikla was one of 839 graduates in 72 programs honored Friday, May 21, at the CVTC virtual Spring Graduation Celebration. She was among 19 Human Resources graduates. The largest group of graduates was 100 in the Nursing-Associate Degree program, followed by 54 in Business Management ad 41 in Criminal Justice-Law Enforcement. Also honored were 12 students who completed their High School Equivalency Diploma since the previous graduation in December.

Cwikla attended the UW system’s two-year campus in Wood County, then enrolled in Midstate Technical College in Wausau before attending CVTC.

Heather and Brandon Cwikla stand outside their “forever home” in Medford. Heather, a CVTC Human Resources program graduate, overcame many hectic challenges in her life while finishing school. (Photo by Mark Gunderman)

I changed what I wanted to do, which is human resources,” Cwikla said. “CVTC was the only one close that offered an associate degree in Human Resources.

Cwikla became engaged to Brandon Cwikla in August 2018 and a June 2020 wedding was planned. However, that was postponed due to COVID-19. They ended up with a smaller ceremony in August. Just before the wedding, they found their “forever home” in Medford and went through the process of selling their original home and moving.

Because of the timing, we had to store everything for two weeks before we could move in,” Cwikla said. “We stayed in Brandon’s mother’s home, then we call caught COVID.” They were finally able to move as the semester started. 

Cwikla worked as a customer service representative at a Forward Bank branch for two and a half years, but last February began a new job with Aspirus Health Care in Medford as a business health administration specialist working with employers. That was about a month after starting her Human Resources program internship at Weather Shield, a windows and doors company in Medford.

With graduation, moving, the wedding, and the quarantine behind her, Cwikla’s life is starting to settle down and now gives her time to plan what’s next.

I will stay with Aspirus,” she said. “It’s close to home in Medford and pays well. But I’d like to get into human resources eventually.”

This article was orginally reported by
Mark Gunderman

Mark is Communications Specialist for Chippewa Valley Technical College, Eau Claire, WI, since August 27, 2012.