De’Ron Pegeese can’t remember a time when he didn’t know that there was something better waiting for him. It was just a matter of finding exactly what it was.
He knew it in 1994 when as a high school student he was involved in a summer work-study program in Beloit. He knew it even when he dropped out of Beloit Memorial in 1996. That sense was there when he corrected that 1996 decision about a decade later when he completed not only his GED but his HSED. Then, in 2012, when a cousin completed his degree at Blackhawk Technical College and Pegeese’s job with a local limousine firm was driving him nowhere, he realized it was time to find it, no matter what “it” just might be.
“I spent a lot of years trying to not beat myself up too much but it was hard,’’ he recalled recently during a break from classes at BTC’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Center in Milton. “Now I know better.’’
What he learned came via a two-year process in Blackhawk’s Manufacturing Information Technology Specialist (MITS) program that provides an integrated approach to Information Technology and the role it plays in a manufacturing setting. As directed by instructor Ed Scoville, students like Pegeese receive training with computer hardware, operating systems, application software, mobile devices and networks as well as the customer service needed for the employees the MITS services support.
Pegeese explained that he always had an interest in computers. After meeting with BTC admission advisers, he recognized that the diversity of the MITS program would serve him well.
“I was real nervous when I started because I was out of my comfort zone,’’ he said. “But the support was always there. I wasn’t sure if I was going to fit in, not having gone to school for a while, but the program allowed me to fit right in.’’
Now, after receiving several IT certificates over the past two years, Pegeese, 36, is looking forward to the upcoming Saturday in May when he will receive his MITS technical diploma and embark on the next stage of his personal journey of discovery.
“I am ready to get into a career, to start something I can build on,’’ he said, refusing to limit where that step may take him.
That attitude comes in part from his BTC experience during which he did more than just attend classes. He was active in student government and participated in a range of community service activities such as the Beloit Food Drive.
“I wanted to stay on the inside and be occupied with school stuff to keep me interested,’’ he explained. “The best part is it allowed me to meet new people.
“I’ve been taught how to work with a group of people. That wasn’t always my strong suit. But at Blackhawk, not only do you do it but you have to be successful at doing it. You learn how to be responsible, not only to yourself but with the people you are working with.’’
Perhaps his proudest example of that came earlier this semester when he joined fellow MITS students Anne Shroble and Matthew McNulty at the State Capital in Madison for the Wisconsin Technical College System’s Celebration of Student Engagement, where the trio explained their computer generated robot project in the building’s rotunda.
“We do everything together,’’ he said of his teammates in the project. “We help each other out and talk about a lot of stuff.’’
That’s just another piece of the journey to find out what’s out there for him.