Matt Halambeck is always looking for the next opportunity. He started college in the 1980s, but when he was offered a management position at the restaurant where he worked, he jumped at the chance. This decision led him on a successful path in the foodservice and retail industries. He even opened several of his own stores until the 2008 recession, when he was forced to close.
Though Halambeck was able to move into a role at Ricoh, his experience made him realize that he needed to keep learning and growing to stay ahead of changes in the economy. This determination led him to the business administration program at UW-Platteville Online.
"I'm in the paper industry, and our work is changing. My job will look completely different in five years, and I either need to be the guy that can lead that change or I need to be ready for opportunities elsewhere," Halambeck said. "Having my degree will help me make that move when the time comes."
While his career was a major motivator for returning to school, Halambeck said his real inspiration came from his children. He found that as they reached college age, they weren't excited about continuing their education. By enrolling in a bachelor's program, he hoped to show them the real-world impacts of a degree.
"Neither my wife nor I have a degree, and I can see how that has impacted my children's attitude towards education," Halambeck said. "They don't realize how that has affected us or some of the regret that comes with not having that degree. I want to be a role model for them and show them the difference school can make."
With two children in college and one high school junior, plus working toward his own degree, Halambeck has found that finances can get tight. However, in spring the spring of 2018, Halambeck was awarded the Ruth Miller Challenge scholarship. The $750 award is presented each year to a student who has overcome hardships to pursue their education. For Halambeck, the money will go much farther than supporting his own personal and professional goals.
"By winning this scholarship, the money not only helps me keep moving forward, but really keeps everyone moving forward," Halambeck said. "Whether it is me or my kids, a degree is going to gives us more opportunities and make us more promotable in the future."
Halambeck is on schedule to graduate with his bachelor's degree in May of 2021.