Dave Scheidler’s plans after his graduation from Chippewa Valley Technical College are far different than what his fellow graduates have in mind.
Scheidler isn’t too interested in building a career. He plans to go right back to CVTC as an unpaid volunteer instructional assistant in the welding program he just finished.
“I could tell the instructors could use some help, and I have time to spare,” said Scheidler, 58, of Cadott, a retired career Army veteran whose benefits take care of most of his needs.
Scheidler was one of 315 graduates in 38 programs honored at the CVTC commencement ceremony held Dec. 19 at UW-Eau Claire’s Zorn Arena. The largest program by far was the nursing-associate degree with 91 graduates, followed by business management with 26. The graduates honored included 19 from the nursing-associate degree program at the CVTC River Falls campus.
Scheidler was one of five graduates in the two-year welding fabrication program. There were 14 additional graduates in the one-year welding program. Welders are in such high demand that most, if not all, have jobs lined up already. But Scheidler didn’t enroll in the program with an eye toward getting a good job.
“I spent 20 years, three months and seven days in the Army,” Scheidler said. “I was a combat engineer. I put in minefields, did demolition, built roads and bridges — whatever they needed me to do.”
He spent his last three years as an adviser to National Guard engineering units in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Scheidler did a variety of things after his military retirement in 1999, working at Menards, becoming a partner in the Latigo and Lace bar near Cadott and taking classes in the CVTC air conditioning, heating and ventilation program. He also bought a 10-acre hobby farm where he raises a few black angus beef cattle and some horses.
“Every time a piece of equipment broke, you’d have to find someone to fix it,” Scheidler said. “So I bought a welder and decided to come to school and learn how to weld.”
Scheidler said he may still pick up a part-time job welding at some point, but some disability issues limit his availability. “Too much bouncing around in armored personnel carriers,” he said.
Scheidler said he feels he is a good role model for the young students in the welding program. “I want to get kids to start thinking in the right way,” he said. “Some don’t seem to understand the value of their education. They may be able to weld like a son-of-a-gun, but can’t show up on time. I’ve had a lot of experience working with people and helped out the first-year students this year.”
Working with welding students isn’t Scheidler’s only volunteer work. He recently started the We Got Your 6 Outdoor Adventures effort in which he takes veterans suffering PTSD symptoms on fishing and hunting excursions, all free. He explained that the name comes from “6” being at the bottom of a clock, representing the “back” — as in “we got your back.”
Donations to Scheidler’s non-profit on behalf of veterans can be made by contacting him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The student speaker for the CVTC commencement ceremony was IT–Network Specialist graduate Nicholas Wu. Wu earned a bachelor’s degree and a good job in the finance industry, but realized he wasn’t enjoying what he was doing. He switched careers so he could do something more in line with his interests.
“Risk is a component of progress. To be able to grow, we need to not only have plans but also think about all possibilities,” Wu said.