TKC helps students explore options

If you had asked Diviniti Pulliam on Monday morning what she wanted to do during the first of her five-day Tech Knowledge College experience at Blackhawk Technical College, the last thing she would have told you is take apart a computer.

But by Tuesday afternoon, Pulliam was looking forward to the first of two Hands on Learning sessions that day when she was scheduled to dissect a computer hard drive in a class conducted by Blackhawk instructor Ed Scoville.

“All you have to do is ask anyone who knows me. The last thing I would want to do is that computer stuff,’’ saidPulliam, who will be a senior at Beloit Memorial High School this fall. “But I went, and I actually liked it.’’

Later that afternoon, Pulliam would join other students in the BTC kitchen, where Culinary Arts instructors Joe Wollinger and Katie Thomas were helping students get hands-on and hands-in experience wielding dough for the pizzas they would make.

Pulliam was joined by 15 other students from Beloit and Janesville for the Tech Knowledge College experience, during which students entering or already in high school this fall receive academic instruction in Reading, Writing and Mathematics in the morning and then spend their afternoons investigating BTC programs in four areas – Business, Culinary Arts, Health Sciences and Public Safety. The program is funded through a grant from Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction.

The experience isn’t all school work, though. On Friday, an excursion to Chicago’s Navy Pier is planned.

Yet, even with a field trip in the offing, the real purpose of Tech Knowledge College was clear for Pulliam.

“I’m here because my mom wanted me to be ready for college sooner,’’ said Pulliam, 17. “I hadn’t even thought of a technical college before this.’’

Pulliam is committed to getting a four-year degree in Business, the start of the process that she hopes leads to owning her own bakery and event planning business. She has already applied for early admission for college. She will be taking two Advance Placement courses at Beloit Memorial this fall plus a college level Public Speaking course at UW-Rock County.

She now believes her experience at Blackhawk has opened another door on her college bound journey.

“I want to see what Blackhawk has to offer,’’ she said. “Right now, it looks just right. It’s a nice campus that’s close to where I live. It offers me a lot.’’

She recognizes that one thing BTC offers is a relatively inexpensive introduction to her college career in which she could take  general education courses and transfer those credits to a four-year school that offers a degree in a program she wants.

“I feel like I can come here and it won’t be too expensive, and then I can transfer,’’ she explained.

That was exactly the idea earlier this summer when the Wisconsin Technical College System and UW System reached an agreement that will allow students to transfer up to 48 core credits from one system to another. That program goes into effect for the upcoming school year.

Pulliam wasn’t certain what to expect from Tech Knowledge College. But after just one day, she was impressed.

“I went home (after the first day) and told my cousins they have to think about doing this,’’ she said. “It’s certainly not what I expected. I figured it would be classes and lecturing, but that isn’t it. The instructors make it hands on. They are really engaging, and it’s not boring at all.’’

That even included the last subject she thought she would ever want to investigate – computers.

“Everything is so foreign to me,’’ she said, referring to computer science. “Before I came I was thinking, ‘I don’t want to go into that field, so why me?’ It was so scary for me.”

But after that first 75-minute session, fear had been replaced by confidence.

“If it hadn’t been for this camp, it wouldn’t have ever happened,’’ she said. 
“This is right for me.’’

This piece was written by Vic Feuerherd, the Public Relations Specialist at Blackhawk Technical College. You can contact Vic at vfeuerherd@blackhawk.edu or at (608) 757-6322.