Real Success Stories

Meet real role models working in various industries who have found success through alternative pathways after high school — and what they like about what they do! Looking to dive deeper? Complete this scavenger hunt to help you explore the many paths to success.

  • John Kugler

    Dog Trainer and President, Bug Hounds LLC

    After I realized becoming a professional baseball player just wasn’t in the cards, I considered being a teacher because I love helping others. But my career path took a few turns before I found myself educating people — and it turned out not to be in a classroom.

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  • Grace Desch

    Clinical Nurse Manager

    When I was in 1st grade, our class was asked to think about where we saw ourselves in the future. I still have that yearbook, and at seven years old I said I wanted to be a pediatrician. Throughout the years, I bounced back and forth between pursuing that dream of health care and going down the...

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  • Michelle Coleman

    Research Scientist

    When I was in high school, I took a few agriculture classes and absolutely fell in love with the industry. To explore the field more, I joined our school’s FFA (previously known as Future Farmers of America) chapter. I enjoyed every minute of my experience in the program, and it definitely...

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  • Katrina McClure

    Registered Nurse

    My mom is a nurse, so I’ve always been interested in the healthcare industry. I remember when I was in 5th grade, she came to Career Day and brought a bunch of bones into class and told us about where they were in the body and what they did. That day has always stuck with me, but it took me a few...

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  • Elizabeth Paradise

    Occupational Therapy Assistant

    I began working in retail as soon as I graduated from high school. But when I was around 30 years old, I wanted a change and began exploring my options. I thought health care might be a good fit, so I started working at a home for adults with disabilities. Since a license wasn’t required for the...

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  • Seth Edigar

    Fiber Technician

    Growing up, I always liked the idea of being a teacher. Educating others while making learning exciting and easy seemed like a dream job. And while I didn’t technically end up as a teacher, I do get to help others succeed in my current role.

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  • Stan Mutuku

    Equipment Maintenance Technician

    Stan Mutuku was attending Wichita Area Technical College when he saw fellow students working for Spirit AeroSystems and getting paid to go to class. Stan thought that sounded like a great path, so he started as an electrician. Today, he's a manager at the facility. 

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  • Wendy Crossman

    Vice President of Sourcing for Boeing and Defense

    Wendy Crossman began her career as a teacher. And while she loved certain aspects of the job, she felt like she was meant to do something else. Today, she's been with Spirit AeroSystems for over 25 years! 

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  • Zachary Zimmerman

    Senior Director of Defense Operations

    Zachary Zimmerman knew he didn't want to graduate college with debt, so he was looking for a way to help get his education paid for when he heard about Spirit AeroSystem's tuition reimbursement program. Zachary leveraged the program to help pay for his bachelor's and master's degrees. 

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  • Vanessa Combs

    Executive Director of Twin Aisle Operations

    Vanessa Combs started her career at Spirit AeroSystems to take advantage of their tuition reimbursement program and help get college paid for — she's been with the company ever since! 

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