College work-study boosted learning

By Andrew Jenner | January 13th, 2015

One summer in the mid-‘90s, EMU embarked on a project to run fiber optic and copper computer cables to most of campus, including the ‘Woods dorms around the quad. Much of the grunt work fell to a crew of students who spent the summer using hammer drills to bash holes for the cable conduit through the cinder block walls.

Among them was Daniel Zook ’97, who held a variety of work-study positions with EMU’s Information Systems department throughout his time on campus. The hands-on, practical learning that came along with those various jobs – from staffing a computer lab to working the help desk to pulling cables through the walls in Maplewood – was “much more valuable after graduation than any of the classes I took,” he recalls.

Troubleshooting as a help desk staffer was particularly relevant to his work since college, says Zook, now a systems administrator at Lehman Hardware in Kidron, Ohio (see photo, p. 59).

Another student on the wiring crew that summer was Mike Stoltzfus ’98. In addition to the hammer drill, he recalls using an even heavier-duty core drill that he stood on, pogo stick-like, to punch through the steel-reinforced concrete between floors. Stoltzfus now works as director of business affairs at Eastern Mennonite School, down the road from EMU (see story, pp. 26-27). His responsibilities include overseeing IT at the school, and he also looks back on his succession of Information Systems work-study positions as the most useful aspect of his college education.

“The time that I spent working in the IS department was far and away the most valuable aspect of my academic time at EMU,” he said. “That’s really where I felt like I got the skills and the knowledge I needed to be able to dive into the workforce when I graduated.”