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Palmyra man wins JWCC Foundation, WGEM Career Makeover competition

Adult students continue to reinvent their careers by taking courses and earning degrees at John Wood Community College. 

This opportunity is now open to Troy Gard of Palmyra, who won this year’s JWCC Foundation and WGEM Career Makeover competition.

Troy Gard received a check to cover his associate degree at JWCC, presented by Barbara Holthaus, JWCC Foundation Board and Natalie Will, WGEM with family and friends in attendance. (Contributed photo)

Gard emerged from a field of nearly 30 applicants to earn a two-year, full-tuition scholarship, also covering books and fees, to pursue an associate degree at JWCC.

At the age of 36 and with many years of working for the railroad, Gard said he’s ready for a new opportunity.  

“As you get older you realize it starts to take a toll on you, so I thought maybe I should start using my mind over my body,” Gard said.  

Gard wants to take his longtime love of technology and pursue an electrical technology degree at JWCC.  He said it will open him up to a wide range of career paths.  

“I enjoy working and helping others so anything to do with electric cooperatives or transmission facilities,” Gard said.

Gard is also a volunteer firefighter for the Palmyra Fire Protection District.  Chief Gary Crane said his expanded electrical knowledge will benefit the department.  

“We are very proud of Troy and are thankful for the JWCC Foundation and WGEM’s sponsorship for this life-changing program,” Crane said. 

When asked about next year’s contest and anyone considering entering the competition Gard said, “Go for it – it’s never too late to move forward.”

Gard will begin courses as part of his associate degree this fall with a focus in electrical engineering. 

Runners-up to the competition are Susan Cooley and Ashley Wigle. Each will receive a $1,500 JWCC scholarship for the 2021-2022 academic year.

The JWCC Foundation began in 1984 to advance the College’s mission and create educational opportunities through giving. 

In addition to the annual Career Makeover competition, the Foundation awards more than $150,000 in private scholarships to JWCC students each year and supports multiple programmatic and capital projects for the College.

“This is one more way the JWCC Foundation creates educational opportunities,” said Barbara Dietrich Holthaus, executive director of the JWCC Foundation Board.  

“Thanks to the continued partnership with WGEM, the Career Makeover contest is a public way of showing the power education has to change someone’s life.” 

WGEM supports the project as an extension of serving the community and its partnership with JWCC. 

“The Career Makeover isn’t just a competition, it is a life-changing event,” said Carlos Fernandez, WGEM. 

“We are proud to partner with the JWCC Foundation to help people change their lives for the better.”