Initiated in 2008, Excelsior College’s Partners in Lifelong Learning has raised more than $430,000 benefiting more than 400 adult students in financial need from the New York Capital Region and its surrounding areas. With the seventh annual celebration scheduled for April 23, 2014, Excelsior Life catches up with past winners to learn how earning a degree helped shape their life.
Over the past two decades, Albany, New York has repositioned itself as an east coast competitor to Silicon Valley, sparking a wave of new technology companies, regional investment and a generation of young adults aspiring towards STEM careers. John Paul Ciejka was one such individual.
Despite having no previous experience in the field, the Glenville, New York native was excited by the prospect of a pursuing a career in high technology within the New York State capital area. However, as husband and new father, a traditional program at a brick-and-mortar college was out of the question. He needed a program that would allow him to balance school with a full-time job and an infant at home.
Ciejka’s research led him to Excelsior and in 2012 he enrolled in the Associate in Science in Technology program. A Partners in Lifelong Learning scholarship has helped defray the additional financial burden on the young family of his educational pursuits.
Balancing his studies with a full-time job and home life has not been without challenges, but Excelsior’s academic service have been attentive to his needs and his wife there to offer him the necessary support, taking on more of the household responsibilities so he can schedule study time outside the home.
“My wife has been very supportive because she believes in me and knows it would lead to a better career,” said Ciejka.
His wife’s intuition is already proving prescient as the decision to head back to school is already paying dividends for Ciejka. He was recently hired as a process technician in lithography for Global Foundries, a billion-dollar computer chip manufacturer located in Saratoga County, New York.
He credits his Excelsior courses in electricity, digital circuits, and nanotechnology for providing the foundational knowledge he needed to learn the day-to-day responsibilities of the highly-competitive position. And, of course, the Partners in Lifelong Learning donors for helping to make his educational journey possible.
Read about other Partners in Lifelong Learning Awardees: