Jill Kramer’s career path has always kept her focused on building up the people around her. Her work now, as an independent caseworker and personal care worker reflects every step of her journey.
Inspired by her friend who benefited from the ways the criminal justice system and social work system worked together, Jill began studying corrections at NWTC after graduating from Menominee High School in 2004. “Every single instructor that I connected with was super personable. They all seemed to really care and put in the extra time to support me.” She earned Honors during her time studying Corrections at NWTC for her academic achievement, but at the time wasn’t able to finish the degree.
Kramer obtained a position in a youth group home and stayed there for a number of years. “I was lucky to have that opportunity early on in my education because it provided me the hands-on experience of working with people with special needs.”
At the same time, Kramer also started working with adult clients: managing check-ins and helping with their needs. Kramer describes this work as “rewarding” and educational, as she saw how everything was intertwined—juveniles, mental illness, and family care.
Wanting to learn more in a formal setting, Kramer enrolled in classes at UW-Green Bay around 2011. The classes were blended (part online, part in person) “which allowed for so much flexibility as I was able to work full time, commute, and take classes.” Kramer remembers loving her time on campus as well. “It was so cool to connect it all—work, education, life.”
This summer, Kramer visited the table for the Marinette Campuses of both NWTC and UW-Green Bay at the Library in Bloom event in Stephenson, MI, where she now lives. . She struck up a conversation with representatives who offered to check on her degree progress after her years working. Kramer later learned that the requirements had changed for the degree she had been pursuing. She sought out support to meet those requirements and earned her Criminal Justice Associate Degree.
“I learned so many life skills through my college experience; from building consistent routines to multitasking different materials—even flexibility through blended learning. Continuing my education has helped me grow, learn, and prepare for the life-long skills needed for the career I am working towards.
Kramer says that both NWTC Marinette and UW-Green Bay focused on making it easy to have flexible options so she could fit further education into her lifestyle. Her advice to those considering to start college is to “go ahead and don’t be afraid to get to know each and every instructor and the departments. They truly do care about your success. You will build relationships with them—enjoyable relationships! Reach out of your comfort zone because it will pay off.”
NWTC Marinette and UW-Green Bay, Marinette Campus cheer on the great work Kramer has done and is doing and are proud to call her an alum of our two campuses.
The Marinette Area Higher Education Coalition is a collaboration between NWTC Marinette and UW-Green Bay, Marinette Campus designed to provide a seamless student experience and accessible higher education to anyone in the Marinette area. Those enrolled at either college have the unique opportunity to access resources and services at either campus as well as transfer select degrees from NWTC Marinette to UW-Green Bay, Marinette Campus. Visit nwtc.edu/Coalition and uwgb.edu/Coalition for more information on the coalition and its collaborations.
Story and photo contributed.