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Wired Together: Classroom bond to cap and gown
Classroom Bond To Cap And Gown
(From left) Olicer Berghaus, Paulina Tseng, Kevin Dippel and Chris Purget pictured hours before graduating together with degrees in Convergence Technology at Collin College.

(From left) Olicer Berghaus, Paulina Tseng, Kevin Dippel and Chris Purget pictured hours before graduating together with degrees in Convergence Technology at Collin College. The foursome bonded over wires, routers and study sessions full of pizza and Slurpees.

Paulina Tseng is the last to arrive. There are hugs all around.

The scene appears to be a sort of reunion among old friends from way back, classmates with a long, rich history or long-lost cohorts that had not seen each other in ages.

What is happening in the Convergence Technology lab at Collin College’s Preston Ridge Campus is actually something that has taken place, on some level, for the past half-decade or so.

It is a history wrought with routers, wires, study sessions, lava-flows of Slurpees and mountains of pizza crust.

It was a friendship that would grow into a family and an experience that led to Tseng, Kevin Dippel, Oliver Berghaus and Chris Purget, in cap and gown.

Both – the friendships and degrees – were completely unexpected. Collin College can change lives in more ways than one.

Berghaus was already in a management position at Bank of America (he is now a vice president and change consultant with the financial institution). Purget had lost his job in the staffing industry. Tseng was and is the office manager at a cardiology and gastroenterology clinic. She wanted to learn more about the communications technology in her office so she would be able to troubleshoot her own problems.

“When we got a new office, I set up the network. It was fun, but it was a challenge. It was good that I was able to use the knowledge that I received at Collin College,” Tseng said.

Tseng, Purget and Berghaus quickly formed a bond. It started in the classroom and ran over to a study group. Meeting several times a week at someone’s house, they purchased their own routers and equipment in order to do the lab assignments at home.

This arrangement continued for the next several years. All three worked day jobs and were unable to take classes full time. Then, Dippel lost his job in data storage.

“I had no marketable skills, and the program here gave me a lot of options to figure out where I wanted to go whether it was wireless, networking or computer repair. I did not have to settle on one course. I could play the field,” Dippel, now 37, said.

Unemployed, Dippel progressed quickly as he was attempting to change careers and had the time to take classes during the day and night. Tseng and Dippel began to finish their convergence courses.

“I told her,” Dippel said. “‘If you take these classes the four of us can graduate at the same time.’”

She did, and they did on May 13 at the Allen Event Center during Collin College’s commencement ceremonies. Berghaus, Purget, Tseng and Dippel, an unlikely quartet, brought together by a thirst for knowledge and a need for change, took the walk across the stage.

The greatest testimony for Collin College’s Convergence Technology program is that all four stuck with the program for four or five years. The professors, they said, used hands-on lessons to instruct and were approachable and knowledgeable.

“All the professors are helpful, but they are more than just professors. They don’t just come in to teach. It’s more of a mentor relationship,” Dippel said.

Purget called them facilitators. “They would say, ‘This is what we need to cover. Let’s go in and discover it together,’” he said.

Convergence technology – nothing against other technologies – has probably altered our lives the most over the past 20 years. It is the “convergence” of voice, video, data and images into one network. If you want a good example, look in your hand or purse. Your cell phone’s ability to communicate with others, get online, record video and store your CD collection is a prime example of convergence technology.

All four said they will return to Collin College for further training and classes.

“I’m going to use (my degree, certificate and marketable skills certificates) in my current job,” Purget said.  “Any of those things that you can put on your resume that says you obtained it can make you more marketable to employers.”

According to Dippel: “I know the degree will open up doors for me.”

Visit www.collin.edu/academics/ctc for more information about convergence technology.

Reprinted with permission by Plano Profile