For the past two years, at the end of each semester, a pair of Chippewa Valley Technical College IT-Network Specialist students compared their grade reports. They weren’t just a couple of friends in the program asking one another how they did. This was a comparison with a familial edge to it.
Keri and Sean Bonfoey are sister and brother, and a pair of siblings with a reputation for fighting with one another. In the end, though, it’s all good between the new CVTC graduates.
Keri and Sean were among 839 graduates in 72 programs honored Friday, May 21, at the CVTC virtual Spring Graduation Celebration. They were among 24 IT-Network Specialist graduates. The largest group of graduates was 100 in the Nursing-Associate Degree program, followed by 54 in Business Management ad 41 in Criminal Justice-Law Enforcement. Also honored were 12 students who completed their High School Equivalency Diploma since the previous graduation in December.
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“Keri and I butted heads a lot when we were kids because we are alike,” Sean said. “The IT-Network Specialist program brought us closer together. “It was a new dynamic.”
“We got a better understanding and respect for one another as siblings,” Keri said. “We found out that we learn differently, but we were able to help each other out.”
The Bonfoeys took different paths to CVTC. They both spent some years being homeschooled and at a private school called Faith Christian Academy. Keri, 27, received her high school credentials there in 2011 and spent some time taking general classes at CVTC, then worked at United Health Care in Eau Claire. She had two children and was struggling as a single mother.
“I was reevaluating my life,” Keri said. “I am like Sean – I like to be around people and interact with them. I was looking for the kind of job that would help me support two kids.”
Sean, 25, went to Chippewa Falls Senior High School, graduating in 2014. He enrolled at UW-Eau Claire, starting in Music Education, then switched to Accounting and Business Finance.
But Sean, too, struggled, due to family issues. The stress took a toll on his grades, and he was forced to withdraw. However, while at the university, he took a job with the IT Help Desk. He knew little about how to fix computer problems but received good training.
“Keri was telling me about the CVTC IT programs,” Sean said. “I wanted to get more technical knowledge and I heard CVTC is a great school.” They started the program together. With his experience, Sean was able to get a job with CVTC’s IT Help Desk.
They brought their sibling rivalry to CVTC with them, admitting that they fought constantly.
“We adjusted the first year on how to work together,” Sean said.
“Comparing grades at the end of each semester gave me something to attain,” Keri said.
Keri had the upper hand in the report card battle their first year, but Sean came back strong in the second year. Call it a draw and keep the peace. Both were named to the President’s list each semester.
When COVID came, they didn’t see each other as much. Sean was studying from his Eau Claire apartment with one roommate and three cats around. Keri settled back in with their parents and her two children. Like most people, they have started to emerge from isolation.
The Bonfoeys’ paths will diverge again with their CVTC graduation. “I am staying at CVTC to get my Business Management degree. I am passionate about management. It’s something I’ve always been interested in,” Keri said.
“She likes telling people what to do,” Sean retorted with a typical sibling dig.
Sean is currently working with the CVTC IT department’s networking team. “My goal is to get into UW-Stout and earn a bachelor’s degree in IT and Communications,” he said.
So, there is more studying to do for the Bonfoeys, and perhaps some continued comparing of grades. But now they can both boast of being college graduates.