By Pat Maurer
Losing a job when you are nearing or over 50 years old can be a scary thing, but there are opportunities out there if you are willing to learn something new.
That’s what John Doan did. For nine years, John worked for a company that he loved. He planned to retire there. But, in 2009, the plant that John worked for closed. At 45-years-old, he lost his job. But, he found something too.
He started over at Mid Michigan Community College.
“Instead of feeling let down, I decided to do something. Go back to school. Sure, I felt scared. I worried that I couldn’t do it. But, I loved my time at Mid. The faculty and support staff were so helpful that it was easy to make the transition. I worked hard and learned that education, like most things, is what you make of it.”
“In two years, I finished two certificate programs and got an Associate’s Degree in General Technology. My lowest grade was a B+. My advice? You can come back. It can be done. You’ll surprise yourself and find out what you’re really made of. I have two daughters, and I don’t know how I could have set a better example than this: I went to school. I did it.”
John has been employed as a fulltime machinist since September, 2010 because of the training that he got at MMCC.
He’s thinking about continuing his education.
After 20 years at a company in Mt. Pleasant, MMCC student Brian Miller of Gladwin also went back to school. He was the first to complete the college’s Alternative Energy Technician program.
Miller became interested in obtaining his Alternative Energy Technician credentials some time ago, but when he took a buyout from CME in Mt. Pleasant where he had worked for 20 years, he finally got his opportunity. He enrolled at MMCC in June 2010.
Now he has a brand new career.
As the culmination of his efforts, Miller passed the Electronics Technician Association—International, Level I Installer exams in both Small Wind Turbine and Photovoltaics to receive his certifications. These certifications will allow him to assist in the residential installation of certain solar and wind energy systems.
“The program was really interesting, and I learned a lot,” Miller said immediately following his credentialing. “I feel well-prepared to go to work in this field. And, since it’s an emerging and growing field, I expect lots of employment opportunities.”
It didn’t take Miller long to receive a job offer. He was recruited by Dow Kokam out of Midland, a lithium ion battery manufacturer, who had interviewed Miller twice before he had even finished his training. Currently, Miller is working there as a Shift Production Manager.
MMCC’s Alternative Energy Program is designed to introduce individuals to the basic safety and electrical skills needed to perform entry-level installation. With these basic skills, individuals can then move into the introductory level of solar, wind, and hydrogen fuel cell technologies. From there, students can advance to a higher level of training in photovoltaic installation.
Regarding his experience with MMCC and its Alternative Energy program, Miller couldn’t be happier: “My experience at MMCC was entirely good. Everyone was helpful and made sure that I could keep going with the program and get the most out of it. It was like being part of a really good team.”
Both John and Brian changed courses in mid-life and made a success out of that choice.
In addition to alternative energy programs, MMCC offers training in a number of technical trades that have high demand – even in today’s economy. Local manufactures are looking for machinists and welders, and opportunities also exist for CNA’s. On-demand training in these fields is offered year round at MMCC, and financial aid is available.
MMCC’s Alternative Energy programs are housed in the Harrison campus’ Technical Education Center. The courses are flexible to meet the needs of working students. For more information about this or other technical programs, contact Ed VanAvery at 989.386.6687.
Many of MMCC’s students are 50+, said Matt Miller, Vice President of Student and Community Relations. Classes for the fall semester at the college began Monday, but enrollment information is available, if a person is considering a new career for any reason. For information on courses available call 989-386-6622
Mid Michigan Community College is a two-year public college founded in 1965. The college has three locations including one in Harrison, Michigan and two in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. The main campus is at, 1375 S Clare Ave, Harrison, MI 48625 on 560 acres of land.