Though Ranken is known for being the go-to technical college in the region, Waterloo’s Greg Kersulis wanted to try something different.
Kersulis knew he wanted to pursue a degree in precision machining technology and decided to go to Southwestern Illinois College to do so.
The machining program at SWIC is only four years old, but it has already established itself as a competitive regional program.
“When I was first looking into programs two years ago, this looked like it would be a lot more affordable, and they already had the program certified,” Kersulis said. “It’s right up there with Ranken.”
When he started with the program, Kersulis said he found out many of his teachers had come to SWIC from Ranken.
“I feel like I got an absolutely excellent education for a fraction of the cost,” he said. Kersulis speaks highly of his teachers and instructors throughout the program, saying they were attentive and went beyond just assigning readings from a textbook.
“At SWIC, the teachers were so good at teaching and truly explaining things,” he said. “As long as you had the desire to truly want to learn it, you really can learn it all.”
Mark Bosworth, the industrial technology coordinator at SWIC, said SWIC grads are in high demand because employers know they are well trained and ready to enter the workforce.
“One example of cutting edge technology is our multiaxis machining capability,” Bosworth said. “SWIC is the only precision machining program in the area that offers this new technology. Because of their advanced training, many of our students are offered jobs before they finish the programs.”
During Kersulis’ time at SWIC, he was also awarded a scholarship through the National Tool and Machining Association – St. Louis Chapter, among other scholarships.
He also took second place in precision machining technology at the Illinois Association of Skills USA in 2013.
Within two years, Kersulis was able to get his associate of applied science degree in precision machining technology, and, after graduating this past spring, is starting a full-time job this week.
“I keep hearing from people that it’s much better to start off at a community college because it gives you a much better direction,” he said.
When Kersulis graduated high school, he said all he knew was that he wanted to work with his hands.
“I had no idea what that would entail, but now my future looks pretty great,” he said. “It was such a good program at a very competitive school.”