Mike Wilcher '10 turned to the ironworkers for his first job out of high school. The work was tough. Real tough. It was made up of long hours on construction sites, working with heavy equipment to erect structural steel frameworks used to build multi-story homes, sports arenas, hospitals and more.
After nearly a decade in the field, he sought something more-in his career, and for his family. He turned to the St. Ambrose University ACCEL program.
"Obviously the history and stature of the university was important to me, but to have a college program that fit with my work and family life is what allowed me to pursue my college degree," he said. "The beautiful thing is that no matter where life will lead me, I will always carry the knowledge from this degree with me."
After graduating with his Bachelor of Business Administration degree, Wilcher moved into administrative roles with the United Food and Commercial Workers Midwest Benefit Funds in Chicago, before returning to the Quad Cities this spring to become the pension and health fund administrator for Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 25.
In his new role, his focus is managing both the health and pension funds, taking into account both the wishes of the board of trustees and best interests of membership.
The ACCEL Program, he said, offered a vision of lifelong learning. It's something he values in his approach to his work today.
"Right now there are a number of new things happening in the industry, particularly with the Affordable Care Act," he said. "It's critical we keep up to speed."
For Wilcher, the best part is the impact his work today has on so many people who-just like him-may not have realized what might be possible in the years ahead. "I love this job," he said. "It is a great feeling knowing that you are helping people now so they have security later in life."