Elijah Zimmerman first enrolled at UW-Stout in 2010. His dad was an engineer who provided well for his family, and Zimmerman wanted to pursue a similar career. He entered the manufacturing engineering program and later transferred into packaging and minoring in business administration.
Then, with only two semesters until graduation, Zimmerman left school because of health issues. He planned to return and complete his packaging degree. But his plans changed shortly after returning home when he met his future wife.
His job interviews always went well. But there was a catch – he hadn’t completed his degree. And it never seemed to be the right time to return to school. Remembering how his dad supported his family, motivation sprung up when Zimmerman learned his own family was growing
“The thing that pushed me to finish my degree was news that my wife and I were having a baby,” he said. “I wanted to be in a position to better provide for my family, and I knew that obtaining my bachelor’s degree would help me obtain a job to do that.”
Returning to complete his degree
Zimmerman, of Little Chute, is in UW-Stout’s Adult Degree Completion program. The program accepts prior learning credits and gives credit for work experience, saving students time and money. Zimmerman transferred in with only 31 credits needed to complete his degree.
As packaging is not offered online, he is pursuing an online management degree, which aligns with his interest in helping people and businesses reach their professional goals. He is in the business management concentration.
The online program allows him to fit his coursework around his busy schedule, working full time and spending time at home with his wife and four-month-old baby.
“For most classes, the due dates are set up so that you can do the work whenever you have time throughout the week. After the first couple of weeks, I developed a schedule that worked for me,” he said.
A new career before graduation
Zimmerman’s plan to provide for his family has paid off – he’s started a new career before graduating. He was recently hired as an account specialist with Amcor, a packaging company in Oshkosh.
“Elijah has embraced the degree completion program. He is doing superbly at advancing his career through the application of what he has learned,” said Program Director Renee Surdick. “He is a highly motivated student and has truly transformed himself.”
With his knowledge of packaging operations and his acquired skills in management, Zimmerman has much to offer his new employer. He’s ready to find solutions, meet deadlines and work in a team setting. And he’s enjoying a larger salary with increased responsibilities.
During his interview, Zimmerman impressed his new employer with a website he built in the Introduction to Management class. He felt prepared for questions because of the Organizational Leadership, People Process Culture and other classes.
“Stout’s commitment to helping nontraditional students truly does change people’s lives. Coming back to Stout as a management student was the best decision our family has made,” Zimmerman said.
He plans to graduate in December.