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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Father of Nine Digs In

January 16, 2014
After spending a good many years in the construction industry, Steve decided to go back to school, all the while caring for nine kids.

Although Steve Cichos had been a bricklayer in the construction business for over 20-years, he knew that with layoffs becoming more common, he would have to go deeper if he was going to stay in this business.  “There was less and less work and finances were getting less and less sufficient,” says Steve.  But he didn’t want to walk away from all of those years of experience and knowledge he had gained in the construction industry.

The Online Construction Management degree program was the perfect solution for someone still working 30-plus hours a week – when the work was there.

It took Steve a little while to settle into the routine and the demands of being a student again, especially since the last time he cracked a textbook was in high school.  His greatest challenge was “Getting my mind back to going to school and to think again at that kind of level,” he says. But, he wasn’t too worried.

Steve had a routine for class assignments, deadlines and online posts. The family computer is downstairs in the kids’ playroom, so you might think that concentration was a little hard to come by. Not for Steve. “It wasn’t too bad; I’m used to the commotion,” he says.

It turns out Steve was right. A regular on the Dean’s List, he maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout his CM program. “After I got my first A, I just kind of went for it,” he says.  And, little eyes were watching – all 9 sets. “Having the kids watch me and pay attention to my grades was even more incentive for me to do it,” says Steve. “And, if I wasn’t doing it, I couldn’t expect them to do it.” It might have even gotten a little competitive.

His sixteen year-old, Carolyn, recently graduated from high school with a 4.0 GPA, was Valedictorian and has already tucked away 45-college units. Steve and his wife, Terrie, are proud of all of their children.

Steve graduated in April and is busy sending out resumes to companies he might like to join. He is optimistic about his qualifications and knows a degree can make all the difference.  “I think a degree sets my resume apart from others applying for the same position,” he says.

Looking back, Steve credits his wife and kids with supporting his decision to continue his education.  But, he also has a strong sense of completing what he starts.  “At first it was financial,” he says, of his motivation. “But, then I got into it and wanted to not just finish what I started, but do well.”

Now Steve is in a position to pass the lessons of his success on to others: “I think if you keep the goal in mind and take it one unit at a time, it all works out fine.”


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