News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Daniel Wackershauser, Marketing Specialist
Phone: 608.822.2303
Mail: 1800 Bronson Blvd., Fennimore, WI 53809
Date of Release: June 4, 2024

First cohort of Surgical Technology students earn degrees

Fennimore -
Front row (L-R) Sam Cady, Taylor Morga, and Rachel Huber. Back row: Hillary Roberts and Melyssa Dillenberg.

It was an extra special commencement ceremony last month for the Surgical Technology program at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College. The first cohort of students in this program, which started in the fall of 2022, walked across the stage to receive their diplomas last month.

Front row (L-R) Taylor Morga and Rachel Huber. Back row: Hillary Roberts, Melyssa Dillenberg, Sam Cady.

Rachel Huber, Surgical Technology program director/instructor, attended the commencement ceremony on May 18 to support her students. “I was so proud and overjoyed that we had made it to this point, knowing how well they did academically and the marks they got at their clinical sites,” she said. “It was an amazing feeling.”

This first group included four students. They were: Sam Cady, Spring Green;

Taylor Morga, Boscobel; Melyssa Dillenberg, Boscobel, and Hillary Roberts, Fennimore.

This experience was new for Huber, as well. She has worked in the medical field for years as a surgical technologist, before taking on this role. “I think being upfront with them right away kind of set the scene for how the next two years was going to go,” she said. “They were great. We had good days. We had bad days. They were excellent and they hung right in there with me. They provided feedback, because I was new too. It was a good group to have to grow as a teacher.”

Huber has certainly learned along with the students during the first two years. “I learned that being transparent with the students is huge,” she said. “If you try to fake it, they are going to know you are faking it and lose trust in you. If you come out and say, ‘I don’t know, but I’ll find the answer,’ they put their trust in you.”

“Professionally, for the last two years, I think it went as expected,” said Huber. “In the beginning I was always trying something new. I was lucky to have great staff and program directors that helped lead the way or answer any questions I had.”

The success of this first group and Huber’s passion for surgery, has led to a bright future for the program. It is expected to be full this fall, with a waiting list.

At the onset of the program, a couple students were very shy and would barely speak in class, according to Huber. After advising the students that they will need to speak with patients, Huber instructed them to introduce themselves in class. “They really blossomed and came out of their shell,” she said, noting the recent graduates are interested in returning to campus occasionally to speak with new students.

“I think my passion for surgery rubbed off on them,” said Huber. “Now, they are passionate about surgery, and they want to share that.”

All of the students graduated with employment in the field. One student may advance into an RN program and become a surgical nurse.

The market outlook for surgical technologists is “huge,” according to Huber. “Our job growth expectation is massive,” she said. “Everybody is looking for surgical technologists right now. I’m looking forward to bringing in more surgical techs to the area because we really need it.”

All current first-year students, except one, have a summer internship at a surgical center.

Many of the program’s clinical sites have added summer internship programs for surgical technology between a student’s first and second year. “I see a lot of growth from students who take those opportunities,” said Huber.

Currently, there are students from Illinoi enrolled in the program. Midwest Medical Center in Galena, Illinois, was added as a clinical site, to accommodate the students from that area.

| Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, is one of 16 institutions that comprise the Wisconsin Technical College System. Southwest Tech offers more than 60 programs in a wide variety of disciplines. Courses are offered on campus, online, HyFlex and in a blended format. The college provides apprenticeship, certificate, technical diploma, and associate degree programs that respond to district workforce needs and prepare student for family-sustaining jobs and career advancement. |

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