The Courage to Thrive

Thursday, March 3, 2016


2016 Thrive Career Academy graduates

Contributors: Monica Allaback, Thrive Academy Instructor and Alex, graduate of Thrive Academy

February 23 was a day that marked the beginning of a new journey for nine graduates. Jenni, Cara, Mason, Tabitha, Tiffany, Alex, Ben, Michael, and Nathan all have been hard at work the past 12 weeks preparing for future careers through Valley Packaging Industries’ Thrive Career Academy. Thrive Career Academy, hosted by the University of Wisconsin – Fox Valley, was designed to help individuals with disabilities obtain and sustain employment in the community. The program, sponsored in part by a $100,000 grant from United Way Fox Cities, just celebrated its second graduating class.

Although you may have missed the graduation ceremony, we wanted to give you a front row seat by sharing abbreviated versions of two of the speeches presented to friends, family members, and UW faculty who attended the celebration.

Monica Allaback, Thrive Academy Instructor: “As I take a look at the student’s faces today, the word that comes to mind is courage. Courage to show up every day, courage to try something new, courage to succeed. The author Mary Anne Radmacher says that courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow.’ I am very proud of the way my students show their courage and come in and try every day.

One of those people who has a ton of courage is Alex. Alex is one of the kindest, hardest working individuals you would ever want to meet, and he was chosen to represent his class as the student speaker, so please welcome Alex.” 

Alex, graduate of Thrive Career Academy: “I am very excited to be here today. I am proud of my classmates who made it here together with me. We learned a lot during our time here. I especially enjoyed our time teambuilding, doing Strong Bones and traveling to area businesses to learn about jobs. I worked hard and can proudly say that I have a job here on campus in the buildings and maintenance department.

I am grateful to UW-Fox for opening up their campus to us. We enjoyed our time here and it was nice being part of the campus community. I would like to thank Tracy (Buildings and Grounds Supervisor, UW-Fox Valley) and David (Director of Building & Grounds, UW-Fox Valley) for giving me a chance to prove my ability to work and become part of the team.

Finally, I would like to thank all the people at Valley Packaging for offering the Thrive program and helping me get a job in the community.”