By Suzanne Weiss/Director of Public Relations
MANITOWOC — Silver Lake College observed a milestone in its history on Sunday with a daylong celebration launching SLC Works, its Work College model.
Manitowoc County’s only four-year institution of higher learning is taking the initial step in becoming the first Catholic college in the nation — and the first college in the state — to adopt the Work College model.
With the kickoff of Silver Lake College’s fall semester on Monday, students are heading to classes and to their campus jobs. SLC Works incorporates jobs into students’ schedules, allowing them to gain real-world work experience while they earn a four-year degree.
“This is transformational for the college. It sets us apart from every other institution of higher learning,” said Dr. Chris E. Domes, Silver Lake College president. “I’m very excited about how this will help our students with their professional and personal development.”
The initiative helps students obtain practical on-the-job training and allows them to build their resumes. It also reduces their student debt by applying their earnings toward their education costs.
“I enjoy being able to work hands-on and do things I wouldn’t be able to do at a larger college, especially as a freshman,” said first-year student Meghan Walsh, an accounting major who is working in the financial aid department.
“I think there’s a definite benefit to working while you are in school, not only in terms of the experience of interacting with other people in the work place but also the organizational skills you develop,” said Jim Knickelbine, father of freshman Emma Knickelbine. “I worked throughout my college years and I think that working really complements the academic side of college life.”
Starting this semester, all new full-time residential freshmen and transfer students will participate in SLC Works as a condition of enrollment. Freshmen and sophomores will be given on-campus positions that help them concentrate on improving their liberal arts skills, such as communication and critical thinking.
Juniors and seniors will focus on moving up the ranks to supervisory positions on and off campus, including internships in their field of study so they can apply their management skills.
The college plans to apply for official Work College status in the near future (institutions first must have at least two years of Work College programs under their belts before they are eligible).
Sunday’s celebration included a Mass, music by students, an art exhibit, student presentations, a ceremony and blessing of SLC Works, a picnic, and a dedication of the new Endries Family Patio and Robert Lawler Jr. and Diane Vanne Lawler Reflection Garden.
Guests included Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickels, himself a Silver Lake College student, as well as donors, board of trustees members, parents, students, friends and guests.
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