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Northwest Technical College student Matthew Sconce, a husband and father of six, will graduate tonight with a degree in sales, marketing and management. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Proud father, motivated student to graduate from Northwest Technical College

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Proud father, motivated student to graduate from Northwest Technical College
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Today is a special day for Matthew Sconce. Eight years ago, the 46-year-old husband and father of six never would have predicted he would go back to school.

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After deciding to make a mid-life career change, Sconce will graduate from Northwest Technical College today with a degree in marketing, sales and management.

Sconce, who was born in Australia but grew up in California, moved to Seattle, Wash., about 10 years ago with his wife, Terri, and family. He worked at a large company for eight years and was moving up the ladder when he tore his right rotator cuff while on the job. Several surgeries later, Sconce decided to use his workers compensation package towards schooling to find a new line of work.

"The company I was working for wasn't going to put someone back to work that could possibly get injured again," Sonce said. "My only option was going back to school."

Sonce said he moved to Bemidji to attend NTC because it had a program he was interested in, and he had family in the Bemidji area. Also, he had lived in Bemidji for a few years before he moved to Seattle.

When his injury happened, Sconce said the words, "Now what?" raced through his mind.

"I had some experience in management, and I enjoyed working with people," he said. "I knew I wanted to someday be involved in a company that wants to expand, move forward and keep up with changing times, but not compromise morals."

Sconce had attained a bachelor's degree from a missionary college in Wisconsin many years earlier. He went on to work overseas for one year in New Guinea, teaching people to read and write, while also providing medical care.

The most difficult part of returning to school, according to Sconce, was getting back into the habit of studying again. Almost all of his classes were taken online.

"Initially the biggest challenge was my age and having to learn a lot of new computer skills so I could function," he said.

Not being in a classroom, Sconce said it was hard at times not being able to have face-to-face contact with the instructor or classmates.

"Discussion areas within our classrooms could be a challenge sometimes," he said. "I like to see people face-to-face. I enjoy being able to hear inflections in voices. Sometimes messages could be misunderstood. You have to be very careful."

Sconce said while completing online courses were difficult at times, being able to take classes when and where he wanted was helpful.

"Having to attend classes on campus, you don't have as much flexibility," Sconce said. "Even though some days I was on campus 10-12 hours a day, if something came up with my family, I've got that flexibility to leave."

For the past two years, Sconce said he has treated school like a fulltime job. He's taken classes in everything from communication to sales, marketing and bookkeeping. One of his favorite classes was business law.

"I've thought about starting my own company," he said. "Now, I'll have that knowledge to know if I should or should not do something in a certain way ethically and legally."

Sonce has mixed feelings about graduating. While he is excited about working for potential companies, his biggest worry is getting noticed in a competitive job market and tough economy. He has been busy writing cover letters and tweaking his resume. He knows there will be others like him graduating on the same day with the same degree.

But Sconce has one thing most students don't have - more than 20 years of real world work experience.

"Having been in a management role for than 18 years, that kind of experience is somewhat priceless," he said. "When it comes down to practical experience, dealing with conflicts and knowing how the hiring process works is what I think will set me apart from the others."

He also made an impression on faculty and staff at NTC.

"He's bright and energetic," said Carsha Lapp, a faculty member at NTC. "I think he's just a dynamic individual with a huge entrepreneurial spirit. He's innovative and resourceful and a very giving person. I know he will be successful and a huge asset to any future employer."

In giving advice to others facing a similar situation with a career change, Sconce said he was glad he went back to school.

"If you have the opportunity, do it," Sconce said. "Learn as much as you can about computers. Most businesses are heading in a direction where technology is an absolute. If you don't know some of the basics, you're going to be left behind."

Sconce said his experience at NTC will be vital to what he contributes to a company someday. He looks forward to connecting with companies in the Bemidji area.

He credits his positive outlook on his new career change and experience as an older student to his faith.

"There are certain sayings in scripture that talk about if you do something, do it with your whole heart," he said. "I believe that wherever I'm at in life, that's what I want to do. This experience has been my next stepping stone. It's exciting."

Y awilliams@bemidjipioneer.com

Today is a special day for Matthew Sconce. Eight years ago, the 46-year-old husband and father of six never would have predicted he would go back to school.

After deciding to make a mid-life career change, Sconce will graduate from Northwest Technical College today with a degree in marketing, sales and management.

Sconce, who was born in Australia but grew up in California, moved to Seattle, Wash., about 10 years ago with his wife, Terri, and family. He worked at a large company for eight years and was moving up the ladder when he tore his right rotator cuff while on the job. Several surgeries later, Sconce decided to use his workers compensation package towards schooling to find a new line of work.

"The company I was working for wasn't going to put someone back to work that could possibly get injured again," Sonce said. "My only option was going back to school."

Sonce said he moved to Bemidji to attend NTC because it had a program he was interested in, and he had family in the Bemidji area. Also, he had lived in Bemidji for a few years before he moved to Seattle.

When his injury happened, Sconce said the words, "Now what?" raced through his mind.

"I had some experience in management, and I enjoyed working with people," he said. "I knew I wanted to someday be involved in a company that wants to expand, move forward and keep up with changing times, but not compromise morals."

Sconce had attained a bachelor's degree from a missionary college in Wisconsin many years earlier. He went on to work overseas for one year in New Guinea, teaching people to read and write, while also providing medical care.

The most difficult part of returning to school, according to Sconce, was getting back into the habit of studying again. Almost all of his classes were taken online.

"Initially the biggest challenge was my age and having to learn a lot of new computer skills so I could function," he said.

Not being in a classroom, Sconce said it was hard at times not being able to have face-to-face contact with the instructor or classmates.

"Discussion areas within our classrooms could be a challenge sometimes," he said. "I like to see people face-to-face. I enjoy being able to hear inflections in voices. Sometimes messages could be misunderstood. You have to be very careful."

Sconce said while completing online courses were difficult at times, being able to take classes when and where he wanted was helpful.

"Having to attend classes on campus, you don't have as much flexibility," Sconce said. "Even though some days I was on campus 10-12 hours a day, if something came up with my family, I've got that flexibility to leave."

For the past two years, Sconce said he has treated school like a fulltime job. He's taken classes in everything from communication to sales, marketing and bookkeeping. One of his favorite classes was business law.

"I've thought about starting my own company," he said. "Now, I'll have that knowledge to know if I should or should not do something in a certain way ethically and legally."

Sonce has mixed feelings about graduating. While he is excited about working for potential companies, his biggest worry is getting noticed in a competitive job market and tough economy. He has been busy writing cover letters and tweaking his resume. He knows there will be others like him graduating on the same day with the same degree.

But Sconce has one thing most students don't have - more than 20 years of real world work experience.

"Having been in a management role for than 18 years, that kind of experience is somewhat priceless," he said. "When it comes down to practical experience, dealing with conflicts and knowing how the hiring process works is what I think will set me apart from the others."

He also made an impression on faculty and staff at NTC.

"He's bright and energetic," said Carsha Lapp, a faculty member at NTC. "I think he's just a dynamic individual with a huge entrepreneurial spirit. He's innovative and resourceful and a very giving person. I know he will be successful and a huge asset to any future employer."

In giving advice to others facing a similar situation with a career change, Sconce said he was glad he went back to school.

"If you have the opportunity, do it," Sconce said. "Learn as much as you can about computers. Most businesses are heading in a direction where technology is an absolute. If you don't know some of the basics, you're going to be left behind."

Sconce said his experience at NTC will be vital to what he contributes to a company someday. He looks forward to connecting with companies in the Bemidji area.

He credits his positive outlook on his new career change and experience as an older student to his faith.

"There are certain sayings in scripture that talk about if you do something, do it with your whole heart," he said. "I believe that wherever I'm at in life, that's what I want to do. This experience has been my next stepping stone. It's exciting."

awilliams@bemidjipioneer.com

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