Southwest Tech Spotlight: Melissa Gile
Melissa started off her life near Platteville and moved to Mineral Point in sixth grade. She enjoyed being part of a team and played volleyball, basketball, and softball throughout high school. Melissa graduated in 2002. Within a few months, she relocated to Steven’s Point and landed a job with a local employer.
“I never really planned to go to college, it just wasn’t my thing. I enjoyed working and wanted to raise a family.”
When Melissa was pregnant with her oldest son, Bryson, she moved back home. After a few years in the workforce, she changed her mind and decided to give college a chance.
“I tried out the Dental Assistant program at Southwest Tech mainly because it was only one semester long. I had lost my three front teeth in eighth grade due to a car accident and that made me feel a connection to the field. Southwest Tech was small and I felt comfortable there, plus it was close to home and being near family was important to me.”
Although Melissa thoroughly enjoyed the program, the timing wasn’t ideal. Soon after graduation, she welcomed her daughter, Leah, into the world.
“I wanted to spend some time enjoying my daughter and when I was ready to enter the dental industry, I had lost my confidence as a dental assistant. I wasn’t sure that I would remember the skills required for the job. Instead, I went back to work with my previous employer.”
After a couple more years of not being satisfied in the workforce, Melissa again realized that she wanted a more personal job and one that she could be passionate about. In 2013, she returned to Southwest Tech.
“I hated my job. I looked at my three kids and thought about how badly I wanted a better life for them. I had to make a change.”
Melissa was unsure about what career to pursue, but knew she wanted to help people. She started with the Office Support Specialist program and graduated in May of 2014. The program was a good fit for a highly organized and detail-oriented person like Melissa, however, she just didn’t feel satisfied yet.
“I’ve been through a lot in my life and have received help along the way. I want to return that favor and help others lead better lives, but I knew I wasn’t cut out for the medical field. I chose the Human Services Associate program because it provides the opportunity to help people in an entirely different way. The program has totally opened my eyes and has also taught me how to help myself.”
The decision to leave her job and come back to school with her family depending on her was a tough one.
“I knew it would be hard. I wouldn’t be able to work as many hours and there were still all the regular expenses plus tuition costs. In the end, I knew this was the best decision for me and for my family. Honestly, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. I would have just continued to deal with the job I hated every day.”
Melissa has been very involved on campus as the Student Ambassador Student Coordinator, Student Senate President, a member of the Human Services Associate Club, and the first and only student member of the Southwest Tech Foundation Board.
After graduating from the Human Services Associate program, Melissa plans to attend Upper Iowa University and earn her bachelor’s degree in human services.
“I want to focus on helping either children, young adults, or families. I am very passionate about this career path and industry. I will feel accomplished when I know that I have made a difference in the lives of others.”