When John Hren was laid off in 2008 and still found himself unemployed in 2009, he decided he needed to make a change. After two years and a lot of hard work, Hren graduated with not one, but two job offers. He now puts his education to work at UW Oshkosh, where he works in Administrative Computing.
Hren credits his success during school and after graduation to the support and encouragement he received from his wife and the student support offices on campus.
“My wife and I decided it was best for me to go back to school, and computer science is what I chose,” Hren said. “My wife said if I was going to go back to school, I should pick something I really wanted to do.”
Hren and his family lived in the Appleton area, so he said he chose UW Oshkosh because of its proximity and the well-respected computer science program.
“I could have gone to UW-Green Bay too, but I compared the programs, talked to some people here and I just thought Oshkosh was a better fit,” Hren said.
Hren had some initial fears about fitting in as an adult nontraditional student. He hadn’t been in classes since he attended UW-Platteville for a short time right out of high school, and he said he asked himself: ‘How do I go back to school?’.
“It’s amazing how good the traditional-aged students are with an older guy like me,” Hren said. “Everybody was willing to help. It wasn’t that I was worried about going back to school, but it was just nice to have that acceptance.”
Hren said he made a lot of friends by returning to school and is thankful for the support he received from the Adult Nontraditional Student Resource (ANSR) Office.
“When I was having problems or I didn’t understand something, they always came through for me,” Hren said. “When I was planning out my class schedule, it was nice to have them as a resource.”
Hren spent 12 to 16 hours a day studying and going to class, and that often caused him to question his decision to return to school. When he felt overwhelmed, he said he looked to campus resources for help.
“That’s the one thing I learned — you have to use that resource of office hours with professors,” Hren said. “There were plenty of times when I thought ‘this is way over my head,’ but I just kept plugging away and using the resources I had between the ANSR Office and my professors.”
Hren’s job offers, one at an insurance company in Stevens Point and one at UW Oshkosh in the Administrative Computing office, gave him options that he wouldn’t have had without his degree. He chose to work at UW Oshkosh because he said he hopes to continue to gain skills in the computer science field.
“The opportunity to work with T. Kim Nguyen (who programs University websites and is working on a University-wide intranet) made a big difference,” Hren said. “A lot of the boundaries are off — we have the freedom to choose how we are going to do things.”
Since he started working at UW Oshkosh in June 2011, Hren said he continued to grow and learn and has even had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco for a conference.
“I’ve met a lot of nice people in Administrative Computing,” Hren said. “Everyone’s been super nice — it’s been a really great place to work.”